As they aspire to achieve loftier goals at sports’ ultimate event, the nation’s latest qualifiers for the Olympic Games and sporting associations they represent, have expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for the assistance afforded in attaining their Tokyo goal.
Boxer Ricardo Brown and history-setting diver, Yona Knight-Wisdom, were recently rewarded with qualification spots to the Tokyo Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), world sports’ governing body.
Results achieved at regional and global events such as the Pan Am Games were used to decide qualifiers. Importantly, sports’ local apex body, the JOA, played a lead role in the participation of Jamaica’s athletes at these events and also other events and training that formed part of their overall preparation, which was geared towards the Olympics.
“I want to say thank you to the JOA because if it wasn’t for them I would still be out there trying to get a chance to qualify,” said Brown. “I want to thank them for the hard work and funding they put out to get me where I am now.”
Knight-Wisdom, who is making it to his second Olympics Games – a first-time achievement for a Caribbean diver – expressed that the JOA has been backing his talent for a long time.
He said: “The JOA’s support along the way has been great, being able to compete at events such as the CAC Games, Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games. They were really important, helping me grow on my level of experience and giving me all the competitions I needed, plus all the other ones that I did separately – the Grand Prix’s, the World Championships, and it was really helpful. On top of that, being able to receive the IOC Scholarship since 2017, probably I have received 10 instalments of that, not including the current period. That has basically kept me afloat.”
He added: “Payment for rent and bills made everything else more challenging than before Rio and the JOA, making sure I received my IOC money, it was extremely helpful.”
The president of the Jamaica Boxing Board, Stephen ‘Bomber’ Jones, said the JOA has been supporting Brown’s progress for years.
“We’re very grateful to those who have supported him. We’re grateful to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), they have been following him before the Panam Games when he got his bronze medal and they have been there throughout the pandemic,” Jones highlighted. “Even with the pandemic, he has been in Canada training because he has more competition there because there are more people in his weight class that he could compete against. Before the pandemic, he was training there.”
Continuing, Jones said: “He has been at the tip of the tongue for the JOA. They have followed his trajectory and when we realised that there were going to be no more qualifications in the Americas for the rest of the boxers who were supposed to represent us as well they were steadfast in making sure that Ricardo, the fact that he has an AIBA world ranking, they wanted the boxing federation to make sure that his name was at the top of the list to at least have one of us qualify for the Olympic Games. So we’re grateful for them (JOA) in that regard and wish Ricardo all the best.”
As a matter of fact, there are high hopes that the Jamaican boxer will medal in Tokyo.
“We are expecting him to come back with the first medal in boxing that Jamaica has ever achieved at the Olympic Games,” said Jones.
Brown, too, is very confident.
Commenting on his medal chances, he said: “Yes. That is a must. I’m going for a medal so I’m training hard for that.”
Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica President, Martin Lyn, commented on Knight-Wisdom’s historical achievement and the JOA’s contribution.
“I am elated that Yona has made it to another Olympics. It is the first time in the history of Jamaica and the Caribbean that a diver has made it to two consecutive Olympics. That is kudos to the ASAJ,” said Lyn.
“The journey would not have been as successful without the help of the JOA. The JOA has been extremely supportive of our diver and we definitely have welcomed that support. It has definitely increased over the years and Yona himself is very appreciative of the help. He couldn’t have done it without us,” Lyn revealed.
Knight-Wisdom, who finished 14th in Rio, is aiming for a better finish four years on.
“I want to improve on what I did in Rio. I missed out on making the final by eight points,” he said.
“I was disappointed, I knew I could have competed better so as soon as I finished I was already thinking about the next cycle and what I can do and improve on what I did in Rio and make that final,” he added.
“That is what I would love to do this time. It’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be tough because there are a lot of good divers out there,” Knight-Wisdom shared. “I can’t wait to compete and represent Jamaica as best as possible, put Jamaica on the map in the diving world.”