Despite a challenging and longer preparation period than planned, diver Yona Knight-Wisdom is heading back to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, this summer.
Knight-Wisdom, 25, finished in the top 18 in the 3m springboard event at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Diving World Cup in Tokyo during the preliminary round with 405.20 points on Wednesday. The performance was enough to meet the qualifying standard.
He says that earning another Olympic berth was satisfying, given the challenges of the past 14 months.
“It’s just given me so much excitement for the rest of the year, because I didn’t know where I would be if it didn’t go well, or what I would be doing if it didn’t go well,” Knight-Wisdom told The Gleaner. “What would I do for the rest of the year? Everything for me has been centred around qualifying for the Games.
“To have gotten over the difficult bit and got through the tough preliminary and got the qualification spot, it’s just a great feeling.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent postponement of the Olympics and all qualification events last year resulted in the majority of his training out of the pool because of COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom, and with only one competition under his belt in April prior to the World Cup.
HUNGER TO IMPROVE
Having already booked his Olympic place, Knight-Wisdom proceeded through the rest of the event, advancing to his first final on the circuit since February 5, 2020, when he took silver at the FINA Diving Grand Prix event in Spain. Despite finishing 12th in the final on Wednesday, Knight-Wisdom said it kept the hunger to improve his technique in time for the summer Games.
“I’m always disappointed when I don’t dive well, but the final showed me some more areas that I need to work on and improve,” he said. “Had I done really well in the final, I might have relaxed and taken my foot off the gas. It’s made me [want] to get back to work as soon as possible and really put my foot on the gas and try to improve, and try to be at my best in the summer.”
Knight-Wisdom says that it would be difficult to compare the feeling of his 2016 Olympic berth, where he became the first Jamaican male to qualify and compete at the Games, but says that the emotions were the same, yet for different reasons this year.
“This was the same, but different,” he said. “It was rewarding and satisfying because of what we have been through; and rewarding and satisfying because of the work that I know I have put in, and the anticipation I have had for that.”
Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica President Martin Lyn offered his congratulations to Knight-Wisdom for back-to-back Olympic qualifications and says that he is poised for a better showing in Tokyo than in Rio in 2016.