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Rachelle Simpson: "Mind over matter"

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High diving will be one of the most spectacular disciplines of the 2017 FINA World Championships from 28 to 30 July in a very attractive environment on the banks of the Danube river, right in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building. It is not easy to say who will be the top favourite in the women’s event, but 2015 world champion and two-time Red Bull Cliff Diving Series gold medalist Rachelle Simpson will be one of the medal contenders.

The 2017 FINA World Championships will be the third one with high diving on its programme. The venue will be the heart of Budapest at Batthyány Square, where the best athletes of this beautiful sport will jump off a 20 meter platform.

Rachelle Simpson took up diving at age 13. She initially took part in gymnastics but found the sport more difficult as she got older so switched to diving. She was not really successful in that sport, but her life was about to change a couple of years later.

She started to work as a professional acrobat, and first tried high diving on stage, as part of the cast of "The House of Dancing Water" a Chinese theatrical production combining elements of dance, gymnastics and diving. When a women's competition was added to the Cliff Diving World Series she sent in a video of her jumps and was invited to compete. What’s more, she won the gold medal in the series in 2014 ahead of Anna Bader and Adriana Jimenez.

Simpson managed to repeat that result in 2015, finishing in first place again ahead of Ginger Huber and Cesilie Carlton, but the icing on the cake was still to come: she won the gold medal at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan as well! Cesilie Carlton finished second, and Yana Nestsiarava third.

The American high diver failed to achieve similar results in 2016, finishing only in seventh place in the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series, but she still has a good chance to defend her title at the 2017 FINA World in Budapest.

"Mind over matter" – that is her motto, so she feels she has to be mentally very strong in order to be successful.

She admits she is afraid prior to her high dives. "I'm afraid every time. But I'm also addicted to overcoming the fear." (marieclaire.com, 23 Aug 2016)

Her excellent results are due to her hard work as well.  She does about 25 hours of strength and conditioning work per week. She also does hot yoga and diving practice off a 10m board up to four times per week.

She is already a world champion, but she still has a dream: she wants to compete in high diving at the Olympic Games.

The women’s high diving competition with Rachelle Simpson at the 2017 FINA World Championships will be held on 28 and 29 July at Batthyány Square.

RACHELLE SIMPSON

Born: San Antonio (United States),8 January, 1988

Medal record:

World champion (2015 Kazan)

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series: gold medalist (2014, 2015)