For the past seven years, Yona Knight-Wisdom was the sole face of Jamaican diving, representing the country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
That could be about to change as another talented young diver has emerged, eager to represent the land of wood and water.
Those watching would have got the first glimpse of Yohan Eskrick-Parkinson diving synchro with Knight-Wisdom at the Scottish National and Open Diving Championships from December 2-5 at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.
The newly forged pair finished second in the 3m synchro with a decent score of 375.60 and already the senior partner has begun to have a positive influence on the newcomer.
“Diving with Yona was an unparalleled learning experience,” Yohan tells Sportsmax. TV.
“Yona’s experience with diving is immense, and exposure to an Olympic athlete’s lifestyle and training was a chance for me to learn what it takes to perform at such a high level. Yona is an exemplary mentor and leader.”
Yohan was born in Calgary, Canada, in 2000 to Canadian Melissa Escrick and Jamaican Desmond Parkinson and began diving when he was just eight years old.
Growing up in Calgary, he attended high school at the National Sport School (NSS) while he trained for diving. Deciding that he wanted to explore possibilities for diving at the NCAA level, Yohan got accepted to Northwestern University where he is in his fourth year studying Neuroscience with plans to attend medical school.
Diving for Northwestern, Yohan was a two-time finalist (1m, 3m) at the 2020 Big 10 Conference Championships. He was also a finalist in the 1m springboard at the conference championships in March.
It was while in high school that Yona first came to Yohan’s attention and he has followed his career ever since.
“I had been urged on by several coaches to look into the possibility of diving for Jamaica and began pursuing this in my second year of college,” he said. “Yona really paved the way for me and inspired me to dive for Jamaica.”
In early 2019, he decided to reach out to Knight-Wisdom to find out how he began diving for Jamaica and they developed a relationship.
“He got in touch with me on Instagram just sending me a few videos of him diving,” Knight-Wisdom explained.
“We spoke a little without making any plans, then after Tokyo was out of the way I decided to see if we could make something happen.”
That they did at the Scottish Championships earlier this month after training together for about a week.
“Training synchro with Yona was a success. Of course, it can be challenging to truly know how well we would sync up just by watching each other’s diving, so travelling to Scotland to train together was an important step in the process of seeing if synchro might be a possibility,” Yohan said.
“Thankfully, the synchro went well from the start, and we only had to make some minor adjustments to achieve rudimentary synchronization. This is a small but very important step towards taking our synchro team internationally. I believe we have a lot of potential moving forward.”
Already a Jamaican citizen, Yohan is awaiting his Jamaican passport with the intention of representing Jamaica at future events in the coming years starting in 2022.
“As diving is still a new sport for Jamaica, my goal is to compete and see how far I can go both individually and in synchro. It is an amazing opportunity to be among the first divers to have represented Jamaica in diving. I hope my performance inspires more Jamaicans to pursue diving in the future,” he said.
In the meantime, Yohan is focused on the next phase of his studies, already recognizing the significant challenge of studying medicine while training and competing as a diver. Nonetheless, he hopes to overcome the challenges with the hope of representing the country of his father’s birth at the very highest level.
“Currently, I am at a transition stage both academically and athletically where I am finishing college in the spring and planning to move on to graduate school. I have applied to several medical schools and am also applying to several masters as a backup plan in case I have to take a couple of gap years before reapplying for medical school,” he explained.
“Although diving through medical school would be a big challenge due to the intensity of studying, I will continue training through the summer and see what opportunities arise to continue my pursuit of the sport.
“I will first take the necessary steps to perform at some international events in 2022 and evaluate if the Olympics is a possibility. The opportunity to try to qualify for the Olympics for team Jamaica is very exciting for me, and I will continue to work hard over next year and see how I place on an international scale.”