As the only Asian stop on the 2019 tour, the Philippine debut of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has become a long-overdue homecoming for 20 year-old Filipino-Australian cliff diver, Xantheia Pennisi.
Driven by the support of her mother, a native of Tarlac, Philippines, Pennisi is honored to be the first diver of Filipino descent to compete at the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. "Everything happens for a reason, and this stop happened for me," says Pennisi. "I will be diving for my family and my biggest supporter, my mum."
Xantheia Pennisi was raised in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and became immersed in sports at the age of 4. Pennisi began high diving as a teen and immediately established herself as a favourite among her coaches and peers. Not long after, she was introduced to three-time Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Women's Champion and fellow Aussie, Rhiannan Iffland, and "immediately wanted to be a part of this amazing sport!"
Pennisi took part in a training session in Manila just a few days before the season kicks off in El Nido. Photo: Nina Sandejas/Red Bull Content Pool.
Pennisi made her official debut at last year's Red. Bull Cliff Diving World Series as a wildcard entry at the sixth stop in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still a newcomer to the sport, Pennisi is focused on building on the success of her rookie season.
"For me, this year is still about learning the sport of cliff diving," says Pennisi. "I have only been cliff diving for less than a year, so I am focusing on doing consistent dives and getting high scores. I don't have the biggest dives yet, but I am working on them. My goal is to place in the top 5 at all the competitions."
To prepare for the season kick-off in El Nido, Pennisi has been training six times a week to build core and leg strength, while mastering the execution of dives and somersaults.
"Once you have your fundamental diving skills, being consistent and confident with those dives on the lower boards will make a huge difference with the high dives," adds Pennisi.
For the newly-vegetarian cliff diver, the return to the Philippines is also a chance to enjoy some of her favourite things about the country.
"I love the exotic fruit, especially green mango - they are my favourite!" shares Pennisi. "I love the local markets and street food. The warm weather and all the incredible beaches are a great bonus, but seeing my family is my favourite part of the Philippines."
The young wildcard was joined by cliff diving idols Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland at her Manila warm up. Photo: Nina Sandejas/Red Bull Content Pool.
When asked about the competition, 20-year-old Xantheia Pennisi is excited and ready to make her long-awaited return to the Philippine for the kick-off of the 2019 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
"I haven't been in the Philippines since 2012, and I cannot wait to be back!" says Pennisi. "I feel very special to be representing Australia and the Philippines. I know my family are supporting me, and I want to make them proud."