Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Knight-Wisdom dives into Olympic qualifier today

Published:Tuesday | May 4, 2021 | 12:17 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

After more than a year of waiting, diver Yona Knight-Wisdom will get his chance at qualifying for his second Olympic Games when he competes in the men’s 3m springboard at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Diving World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, today.

The competition is the first official event to be staged since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the culmination of a longer-than-normal preparation period for Knight-Wisdom given the level of uncertainty the pandemic has caused.

However, he says that despite the roadblocks, he has done everything he can to prepare and is backing himself to achieve the required qualifying standard.

“The mindset is just trying to trust in myself, trust in everything that I have done over the last year, and trust in the hard work because that is what is going to get me through that preliminary (round),” Knight-Wisdom told The Gleaner. “If I trust in what I have done, then I know I can do what I need to do to get my qualification, and also if I do it well enough, I can hopefully progress as far as possible.”

Sixth in competitive return

Knight-Wisdom, who became the first Jamaican male diver to qualify for the Games in 2016, would need to finish in the top 18 to automatically qualify. He made his competitive return last month in the Virtual Nations Challenge, placing sixth. He said that the event was a good assessment of his readiness and gave him enough time to make improvements ahead of the qualifier.

“I think it helped to just make a few decisions that I needed to make in terms of how I go about my dives and how best to do them in order to get the best out of the main competition,” he said. “I have been able to work specifically on trying to make those improvements in the last few weeks, and it gave me some reasonable competition vibes.

“I have been able to use that experience and, hopefully, build on it. I think the virtual meet did feel like a real enough competition to give me the guidance for where I needed to go for this one.”

The road to the Diving World Cup was not without uncertainty as organisers originally called off the tournament, which was then scheduled for April 18 because FINA was not satisfied with the safety protocols at the time.

Additionally, Knight-Wisdom’s training during 2020 was mostly at home because of the restrictions in Scotland, although restrictions were easier in the last few months for pools to open for elite athletes.

Knight-Wisdom says that qualifying for this year’s Games would be most rewarding given the circumstances.