March 5th, 2024

Canadian Jessica Macaulay finishes third in final cliff diving event of career

By The Canadian Press on January 28, 2024.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Canadian Jessica Macaulay waved goodbye to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series from the podium Sunday.

The 31-year-old from Montreal, who is retiring from the circuit after six seasons, finished third in the season finale in New Zealand. It marked her 13th podium in 31 career events.

Australian star Rhiannan Iffland won the event, her 35th victory in 44 career stops on the circuit. The win assured Iffland of a seventh straight King Kahekili trophy, which goes to the overall season winner.

The trophy is named after Hawaiian chief who first jumped from the holy cliffs of Kaunolo in the 1700s in what is believed to be the origins of cliff diving as a sport.

It marked the 30th straight podium — and 41st overall — for Iffland, who has won the overall title every year since 2016 (the 2020 season was called off due to the pandemic).

Iffland’s final dive drew the highest scores of the day among the women, who dive off a platform 21 metres — or some seven storeys — above the water.

Iffland won five of the six events this season. She was runner-up to Canadian Molly Carson last time out in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Australian Xantheia Pennisi was second in Auckland with Carson, a 25-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont., who now calls Montreal home, finishing fourth. Simone Leathead, a 20-year-old from Montreal who was a wild-card entry, was ninth.

Romania’s Constantin Popovici won the Auckland men’s event and the overall season title. The men dive from an average platform height of 27 metres.

Iffland topped the women’s series standings with 1,200 points, ahead of Carson (990) and Pennisi (600). Macauley was sixth (468).

By finishing in the top four of the season standings, Carson earned a permanent spot on the 2024 World Series roster.

The 2023 Red Bull series already featured stops in Boston, Paris, Polignano A Mare (Italy), Takachiho (Japan) and Mostar. The season finale in Auckland was originally set for Nov. 19 but was pushed back after a 13-metre suburban sinkhole allowed raw wastewater to flow directly into Waitemata Harbour.

Born in England, Macaulay moved to Canada, where her father is from, when she was six weeks old before family life and jobs took her around the world. Having competed for Britain during her first three cliff diving seasons, she moved to Montreal early in 2021 and started representing Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2024.

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