Jamaican diver hoping to make splash for diversity

Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:21am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

(Reuters) - Tall Jamaican diver Yona Knight-Wisdom hopes he has inspired others to break down barriers and banish stereotypes after becoming the first male diver from the Caribbean island to qualify for the Olympics.

The British-born university undergraduate stands 190 cm tall and weighs 90 kg, an uncharacteristically large frame for a sport dominated by diminutive Chinese athletes at the 2012 London Games.

The 20-year-old, whose father is Jamaican and mother from Barbados, hoped his personal best efforts in the individual three-meter springboard at a World Cup test event in Rio de Janeiro over the weekend would open the sport up to all.

"I think that it should inspire people to try new things. Don't be limited to what is normal and what is safe. Don't be afraid to go against the odds," he told Jamaica's The Gleaner newspaper.

"I am a 190 cm tall, 90 kg heavy, black diver. Watch a diving event and that is not something you will see very often.

"I've gone against the odds, with the faith and support of my family, coaches and team mates, and I've succeeded.

"I think the history of it will really sink in during the Games. Right now I'm... still worrying about the dissertation I have to write and hand in on the 27th of April. All the messages of congratulations and support have made it feel incredible."

Knight-Wisdom said Jamaica had only once previously had a diver compete at the Olympics, Betsy Sullivan, who took part at the 1972 Games in Munich.

The Leeds Beckett University student said he took up the sport after watching the diving competition at the 2004 Athens Games.   Continued...

Yona Knight-Wisdom of Jamaica competes in the men's 3m springboard final during the 2016 FINA Diving World Cup at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes