'Knight' in shining armour

J’can diver Yona Knight-Wisdom charts course at ‘CommGames’

By Sean Williams

Friday, August 01, 2014

GLASGOW, Scotland — He may have finished out of the medals, but Yona Knight-Wisdom has nothing to be ashamed of.

He came to the XX Commonwealth Games with a big heart, which he put on show so splendidly for the world to see. Knight-Wisdom has been a crowd favourite here, evoking cheers from a crowd that warmed to him and the obvious novelty of a black person attempting to champion this sport.

In the men's one-metre diving, he finished fifth from a field that included Olympic champions.

And in the more challenging three-metre springboard, he finished sixth of 12 competitors.

But under the Jamaican flag, Knight-Wisdom had his piece of fame as the world watched the only Black man to take the plunge in these events at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, an hour by bus from Scotland's capital Glasgow.

But before his final round of competition yesterday, the 19-year-old son of a Jamaican father (Trevor Wisdom) and Barbadian mother (Grace Knight), said he was simply grateful for the opportunity to represent Jamaica.

"This is indeed a unique opportunity for me to be representing Jamaica, especially bearing in mind that diving is not popular in Jamaica. So I want to say thanks to Jamaica and Levi Roots for all the support and funding over the years," he told the Jamaica Observer.

The Leeds, England resident said he was happy with what he was able to achieve considering his struggles.

"I have been struggling with injuries, so I am just happy to be where I am and here representing Jamaica," he said.

The 6ft diver, who claims that he has been to Jamaica only once, having been born in England, says he looks up to track sensation Usain Bolt and is inspired by him. Maybe one day, Knight-Wisdom may become the Bolt of the diving platform.

"My favourite athlete is Usain Bolt and I think he has an incredible personality. I met him in the athletes' village and I hope to meet him again with the hopes of getting some photographs this time."

The diver would have to catch him first.

Aquatics boss Martin Lyn was overjoyed with the performance of Yona-Knight at these games, but wants more for the sport.

"I am extremely happy for him and what he has done so far, considering that it is his first major representation for Jamaica," said Lyn.

"If he continues to develop the way he has been, then I am sure that we will have representation at the Olympics," added the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica president.

Lyn said other Jamaicans here threw their support behind the athlete, who brings versatility to aquatic sports in Jamaica where the main programme is swimming, and to a lesser extent, synchronised swimming.

"I made sure I am there to support him, the JOA president Mike Fennell was there, plus I brought some fans out to cheer him on," Lyn noted.

But diving faces an uphill battle as an aquatic sport in Jamaica, and local boss Martin Lyn is quite aware of the challenges.

"I am always trying to push other aquatics and we need to reactivate diving boards in Jamaica, but it costs like US$6,000 (J$630,000) for each, so we need to seek funding for that."





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