EL NIDO, PALAWAN — Still learning the ropes of cliff diving, Filipino-Australian diver Xantheia Pennisi said she is enjoying the process every step of the way and is looking forward to eventually joining the roster of the top athletes in the sport in the world.

Part of the 24 athletes who saw action in the first leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on April 13 at the Small and Big Lagoon in Miniloc Island here, Ms. Pennisi, 20, shared that her journey from platform diving to cliff diving has been a fun ride so far but nonetheless challenging.

“It has been fun learning it (cliff diving), but it requires a lot of practice,” said the Fil-Aussie diver, who traces her Filipino roots to Tarlac, where her mother hails from.

“It was challenging at the start because I was so frustrated why I could not get it right away. But I’m quite lucky to have my coaches and Rhiannan to guide me, telling me to take it slow and not rush things since I’m only 20 and have a lot of years ahead of me. But in terms of my body it is not so hard transitioning from diving to cliff diving. It’s more on the mind, needing to trust your body and the process,” she added, referring to reigning Red Bull world series women’s champion Rhiannan Iffland of Australia.

Ms. Pennisi said Ms. Iffland has been a big help to her since deciding to take up the sport two years ago.

“Probably if I did not meet her I won’t be here in the sport. I have been very blessed as she has guided me and taught me what she knows. She has been a great support for me,” said Ms. Pennisi, who entered this year’s competition as a wild card but hopes to become a permanent diver beginning next year.

Ms. Pennisi went on to say that she was very happy to have the Red Bull world series to be held in the Philippines for the first time so as to expose more Filipinos to the sport and, maybe, inspire them to pick up cliff diving.

“I hope when people see this they will be inspired to try cliff diving. It is such a beautiful sport,” she said.

In the first leg of Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Ms. Pennisi wound up outside of the podium at seventh place with 209.30 points, but she is undeterred by it and instead has become more determined to build on her game and have fun in the process.

“I did not have my best diving today. But I’m still finding my feet in cliff diving and I’m having fun,” she said.

Winning the first leg of the series in the women’s division was Ms. Iffland with 329.25 points, followed by Yana Nestsiarava of Belarus at 319.35 points and Lysanne Richard of Canada at 309.70 points.

Next for the Red Bull world series is Dublin, Ireland, on May 12. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo