Jamaicans are no strangers to creating history, and we have a long track record of doing of doing so in sporting endeavours. In 2014, we cheered when Alia Atkinson won the women’s 100m breaststroke final at the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships in Qatar, equalling a world record and becoming the first Jamaican to win an world championship swimming medal. Well, Alia will have some company in the pool in Rio de Janeiro. Earlier this week, Yona Knight-Wisdom wrote his name in the annals of history as the first Jamaican male diver to qualify for the Olympics. Qualifying for the 2016 Olympics has been his dream since he started competing in the sport, and to top it off, he went on to win the country’s first ever diving medal – silver in the men’s 3m springboard, behind Mexico’s Rommel Pacheco Marrufo at the FINA Diving World Cup. The Olympic test event is currently under way in Rio.
Yona has been making his mark in the pool for a while now, but many Jamaicans are just finding out about him. Here are some things you need to know about the 20-year-old rising star:
- Yona Roshen Knight-Wisdom was born in Leeds, England, on May 12, 1995 to a Barbadian mother, Grace, and Jamaican father, Trevor. This means he was eligible to compete for any of the three countries.
- A former gymnast, he began diving in 2004, after the City of Leeds Diving Club came to his school for a talent-identification programme.
- He made his debut for Jamaica as a junior when he competed at the International Youth Diving Meet in Dresden, Germany, making the final of the boys’ 1m Springboard event.
- Yona made his senior debut at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, Spain, but failed to progress beyond the preliminary round of the 1m and 3m springboard events.
- He was also the first Jamaican to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where he finished fifth in the men’s 1m springboard final and 11th in the 3m springboard final.
- He is 190cm (approximately 6′ 2″) tall, which he has said limits the kinds of dives he’s able to do.
- His sporting hero is none other than Usain Bolt.
- Yona is currently balancing his diving activities with studies at Leeds Beckett University, from which he is expected to graduate this summer.