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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Gary Hunt makes it three wins in a row at Fina High Diving World Cup in Abu Dhabi

Rhiannan Iffland wins gold in the women's event at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club

Gary Hunt completed a hat-trick of wins in Abu Dhabi in the Fina High Diving World Cup while Rhiannan Iffland collected her first by taking the women’s title at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club on Saturday.

Hunt led after the penultimate round of the 27-metre dives and had to hold his nerve on the final dive to to seal victory in the capital for a third year in a row.

Joining the Briton on the podium were Romania's Constantin Popovici (silver) and Oleksiy Prygorov of Ukraine (bronze).

The men’s event had to be rescheduled twice as the winds at the capital’s breakwater picked up, but Hunt held his nerve on the final dive to clinch the title.

“I was comfortable with the windy conditions but going in to the final dive as the second last competitor I did have to overcome some nervous moments,” he said.

“I had to get a good score to beat regain the lead. So it was definitely very stressful because those two divers who finished on the podium put up two really good scores on their final dives.

“I had to do the back-triple quad. I was confident with that dive but I still had to go up there and do it, and managed do it well.”

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After ending the year with a gold medal, Hunt, 34, says he is yet to decide on his 2019 schedule but hoped to return to the capital.

“I haven’t really finalised what my plans are for next year," he said. “Abu Dhabi seems a lucky place for me and I would certainly want to be back. I feel stronger than ever and more consistent than ever, but I’m not getting any younger, so I want to make most of these last years that I’ll compete.”

Iffland, also competing for the third time in Abu Dhabi, went one better than her second-place finish in 2017.

“To win the World Cup for the first time was really good achievement for me,” said the Australian.

“It’s always hard to win at this level, so it’s fantastic feeling. The weather was fine when we competed so that didn’t have much impact on the divers.

“It must have been challenging for the men when the winds picked up but we didn’t have any of that.

“This is the final competition for the year and I’ll take a break and start preparing for both the World Cup and the World Championship next year.”

Canadian Lysanne Richard, the 2016 winner and ninth last year, took silver and the American newcomer Ellie Smart won bronze after a close tussle with Briton Jessica Macaulay and 44-year-old American Ginger Huber, the oldest women competitor.