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A springboarding success: Leeds elite athlete is Rio bound

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PROUD FAMILYL: Yona, pictured with his mother, Grace

PROUD FAMILYL: Yona, pictured with his mother, Grace

A Leeds-based diver who is set to create history, becoming Jamaica’s first ever male Olympic diver at this year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, is celebrating success in the classroom as well as on the springboard.

Yona Knight-Wisdom, who will compete for Jamaica in the men’s three metre springboard in Rio, has also graduated after studying for a degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Beckett University.

21-year-old Yona took up the sport after being inspired watching the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and first represented Jamaica in 2012. 

He competed in the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona the following year and at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before winning a silver medal at the Diving World Cup in Rio in February this year, confirming his Olympic selection.

Yona, who was born in Leeds to a Jamaican father and Barbadian mother, is a sports scholar at Leeds Beckett and was able to complete his studies alongside his commitments as an elite athlete. 

OLYMPIAN: Yona is preparing for ‘one of the biggest events of his life’

OLYMPIAN: Yona is preparing for ‘one of the biggest events of his life’

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time studying at Leeds Beckett and have appreciated the support I’ve received which has allowed me to combine my studies with my sporting commitments.”

Yona continued: “I’m delighted to graduate in the same year as I compete in the Olympic Games and couldn’t be more proud.  Unfortunately, I’m not able to attend my graduation ceremony as I’ll be on a training camp as I prepare for one of the biggest events of my life, but I wish all the other graduating students at Leeds Beckett the best of luck in whatever career path they choose to follow.”

Speaking about his success, Dr Laurie Patterson, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Leeds Beckett, added: “Yona has been a fantastic student and was a pleasure to teach at every level of the course.

“As an athlete, Yona has come on leaps and bounds over the time that he has been diving, which is a testament to his hard work and dedication. The fact that he is the first male diver to represent Jamaica at an Olympic Games is a great achievement and I’m sure he will act as an outstanding role model for future generations who will be inspired by his involvement in the Games this summer.”