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Country girl dives with Olympic hero

25 November 2008

Seventeen-year-old Rhiannan Iffland dived with her sporting hero, Matthew Mitcham, at the launch of the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney today.

Iffland is one of eight divers selected to wear the green and gold at the AYOF in January and aims to follow in Mitcham’s footsteps.

Mitcham won three gold and a silver at the 2005 AYOF in a dominant performance against the best divers from China and around the world. He competed in the 2003 AYOF in Trampoline.

Growing up in a small town called Nords Wharf just outside of Newcastle, Iffland began her diving career the same way as Mitcham - in trampolining.

“I did that [trampolining] for two years before I heard about diving through a friend. I juggled the two sports for a while, before figuring out that I liked diving better,” she said.

Iffland preferred the water and thrills of diving as well as the platform over springboards.

“Diving is exciting, you get more thrills out of it. And I don’t like bouncing much. I prefer to be higher up on the platform, where it is more exciting,” she said.

Today she shared the tower at the Sydney Aquatic Centre with Mitcham and his fellow Olympians Melissa Wu, Sharleen Stratton and Alex Croak.

Iffland has been diving for seven years, from 2001 – 2006 with the Hunter United Diving Academy and for the last two years at the Aquatic Centre with the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS).

She has produced impressive results, winning two silver medals at the 2007 Camo International Canadian Championships and this year three bronze medals at the Elite Junior Diving Championships in Melbourne.

Iffland rates her hardest dive as a back armstand double with one and a half twists. She also rates the best belly flop she has seen as done by an Australian Olympian.

“I have done a lot of belly flops in my time. The pain usually lasts about two minutes,” she said. “But the best bellyflop I have seen would be from the 10m platform - Robert Newbery doing an inward three and a half. He landed flat on his back.”

At the AYOF Iffland hopes “just to have fun, to dive as well as I can and make friends.”

Long term she has set her sights on representing her country at the Olympic Games.

“The 2012 Olympics are definitely on the horizon,” she said. “I am not sure how realistic that is but hopefully I will get there. I just want to compete at my best at an international level.”

Iffland will contest the diving at the AYOF in Sydney from 14 – 18 January 2009. For more information on the competition and schedule, visit olympics.com.au

2009 AYOF Diving Team

Name                         Suburb State Postcode
Rhiannan Iffland         Nords Wharf NSW 2281
Anabelle Smith           Vermont VIC 3133
Hannah Thek              Surrey Hills VIC 3127
Hayley Taeuber          Morphettville SA 5043
Josiah Purss              Wauchope NSW 2446
Darcy Taylor              Mont Albert VIC 3127
Ethan Warren             Acacia Ridge QLD 4110
Jesse Carver             Caloundra QLD 4551

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