Cliff diving with Xantheia Pennisi

She may only be 20 years old but Xantheia Pennisi is achieving feats that many of us can only dream about.

Listen to her full story below.

For anyone not familiar with cliff diving, it’s regular Olympic diving with an extreme twist. Instead of jumping from the standard 10 metres, athletes jump from double that height and land feet first.

Competitors jumped from anywhere between 20 and 28 metres while performing similar displays as regular divers.

“It’s a similar technique to regular diving so the judges take into consideration your take off, your flips and twists and then the landing, but instead of landing headfirst, we land feet first,” Xantheia said. 

“It’s a really high impact as we go about 75 mp/h (120kmp/h), so you can’t land headfirst or else you’ll probably hurt yourself.”

Xantheia has always been involved in sport and began as a gymnast before transitioning to Olympic diving then found cliff diving after meeting Australian world champion, Rhiannon Iffland.

“I met Rhiannon Iffland who has been world champion for four years now when she came to train in Brisbane and when I saw her doing that, I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’,” Xantheia said.

The transition between the sports wasn’t easy and it took Xantheia a year to develop the technique she needed to become a successful cliff diver.

“As a gymnast I was used to landing on my feet and then I changed into diving which was the complete opposite,” Xantheia said.

“It took years and years to get used to it and then I had to change back and again I wasn’t used to it.”

Xantheia’s personal best is 22.5 metres which is 8.5 metres higher than Nambour’s Big Pineapple.

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