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Knight-Wisdom ready to leave a legacy in aquatic sports

...Qualifies for Olympics at FINA Diving World Cup

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Yona Knight-Wisdom created history after he qualified for his second-consecutive Olympic Games when he finished 12th in the 3M Springboard competition at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo last Wednesday.

The competition served as a qualifier for the Olympic Games, which will be held in the same city in the summer and the top-16 finishers have secured their Olympic spots.

Knight-Wisdom expressed relief at securing qualification after what he described as “tough circumstances”.

“I am really happy to have achieved qualification, these were definitely the toughest circumstances I've ever experienced coming into a competition, especially one where I knew I couldn't afford to make big mistakes. So, I'm relieved to know that I got through it safely and now can look forward to what is coming next.”

He suggested that what he has achieved by making it back to the Games for a second time has exceeded his own boyhood expectations.

“Everything I do at this point in my career is to try make my nine-year-old self proud, that's where the dream began. So, to be able to realise the dream for a second time is probably beyond what [I] expected,” he said.

As for the approach to the Tokyo Games, it will definitely be different from the first approach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It's an amazing feeling, but I am approaching this one with a completely different mindset to last time.”

Knight-Wisdom has not put any expectations on himself, but has clearly defined targets which he wants to achieve this summer.

“I never like the word expectation when I'm asked a question, I never expect anything in sport because anything can happen. But my target is to improve on what I did last time and qualify for the final.

“Last time I was just happy to be there, but this time I am aiming to compete a little more aggressively,” he said.

Undoubtedly, his entire family are super proud of his achievement, after he managed to live up to their lofty expectations.

“Pure pride, no shock or surprise...they were all probably more confident than I was! But they are all very proud and happy for me,” he explained.

Knight-Wisdom is at a place now where he is looking beyond himself and his personal achievements and at the big picture of Jamaican aquatics.

“I hope my presence on this stage, alongside Alia, will provide role models for young Jamaicans who want to be involved in aquatic sport.

“I hope I can be involved in the development of diving in Jamaica. This is one of the main reasons I've been so eager to make it back to the Olympics, to give back and leave a legacy. Rio was all about me and my dreams, but now it's definitely bigger than just me.”

Knight-Wisdom would not be faulted for dreaming of a podium finish in Japan, but he will not allow himself to go there. He instead prefers to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground, until it's time to take a dive into the pool.

“I'm too realistic to spend too much time thinking about [medals]. With the superior difficulty that some of the other divers have, I have to rely on them making mistakes. But I do know that anything can happen in these events, so all I'll dream about is performing as perfectly as I can, so if anyone does make a mistake, I can be there to profit,” he reasoned. Knight-Wisdom, whose father is Jamaican, was born in England, but made the decision to represent Jamaica ahead of the last Olympic Games. He celebrates his 26th birthday on Wednesday.

— Dwayne Richards