Jamaica’s Olympic diver Yona Knight-Wisdom has revealed that he has been struggling financially as he works towards this summer’s Olympic qualification.
Having relocated from his family home in Leeds to train in Scotland, the 26-year-old Knight-Wisdom said paying bills for the first time proved to be a major challenge that significantly impacted his preparation.
“It’s has been challenging because there have been times when I have to be borrowing money from friend and family to get through,” he said.
“I have been receiving the funding from the Institute of Sports and it is tremendously helpful because the last few years have been very challenging for me. I moved from Leeds to Edinburg, so I left home which meant I have to pay rent, bills and food and paid for more things than when I was at home.
“The scholarship that I have been receiving plus now this Institute of Sports funding has been really, really helpful and I am grateful to the Minister, Olivia Grange, for providing that for athletes and hope that it is something that will continue, not just in the Olympic year, but in the years in between because those are the years that really count.
“But I am super grateful for it. It has been really helpful. I have been using it for some extra massage treatment and just try to look after my body to get me in a good condition for the Games.”
Knight-Wisdom became the first male Jamaican diver to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016 and recently qualified once more at the FINA World Diving Championships in Japan. He said getting back into shape was a challenge as his preparation was stalled by the lockdowns in the UK that were enforced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am now starting to find my rhythm again. I went through the tough phase of getting back into training full time and so hopefully I can start building on all the good work I did in Tokyo at the World Cup. I can start improving on the small details going forward to the Games,” said Knight-Wisdom, who won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.
“It took a little bit of time because of the qualification to get back, recover physically and recover mentally. It was quite a stressful environment and recover from the jetlag before getting back into training.
“This is my second Olympic Games and it’s so incredible to be saying that. I first watched the Olympics in 2004 at the age of 9 and everything that I am doing now is to make that little boy proud. The fact I am going to my second Olympic Games is really fun and I am happy about it,” said Knight-Wisdom.
Now nearing the peak of his preparation, he said he is focused on improving on his showing at Rio 2016.
“I want to improve on what I did five years ago. I want to improve on my semi-final performance. I know I can dive well enough to get into the final, I have to dive well to make that happen, just like everyone else. So that’s what my aim is to make it to the final then we see what happens,” he said.
“I just want people to enjoy the sport of diving. Watch me and support me and I am so appreciative of all the love and I definitely feel that when I visit the island.
“I want people to enjoy the beauty of diving and the competitiveness and maybe one day we can see more Jamaican divers competing at this level, that would be awesome and I want to do my part and help that happen in Jamaica and the Caribbean.”