5 March 2018
Youth and experience: Knight "shock" at becoming double Paralympian at 19
Millie Knight has spent her life defying the odds but becoming a double Paralympian by the age of 20 takes that to a new level.
The 19-year-old skier made history four years ago when making her debut at Sochi 2014 aged just 15, the youngest ParalympicsGB competitor in any Games, while she was also flagbearer for the opening ceremony.
She certainly impressed along the way too, with two fifth-place finishes to her name, but even now she feels she is a different skier to the one of four years ago.
Flagbearer: Millie leads the team out at the Opening Ceremony at Sochi 2014
At just 18 years old Milile demonstrated her incredible potential in the sport when she became the first ever British Para-Skiing world champion by winning gold in the women’s downhill in 2017. She went on to win three more silver medals at the World Championships in the giant slalom, slalom and super combined events to add to the 11 she had already won on the World Cup circuit that year.
Alongside guide Brett Wild, the pair have struggled to hit the heights of Tarvisio 2017 and their world crown so far this season, with Knight suffering concussion following a crash in South Korea.
Off the snow for a few months, that put a place in PyeongChang in serious doubt for the pair, so she was relieved to finally get the nod they feared may not come after a clutch of bronze medals on the World Cup scene this season.
“To be going to my second Games at 19 feels fantastic and it was a bit of a shock to be selected if I’m honest because didn’t have the best start to our season,” she said.
“I feel very lucky to be in this position with a Games already under my belt, having that experience and that knowledge about what it’s going to be like. To be implementing that into this cycle is so invaluable.
Millie loving holding camp in South Korea
“The Games is a very different environment to any other races that we do, it’s much bigger and there’s a lot more media presence.
“All the athletes from across the world are gathered in one place, you’re sat in the dining room and suddenly there’s amazing people all around you, that’s a real eye-opener.
“For me getting over concussion and having that support, we had massive help getting back on snow and getting our ski legs back.”
Knight lost her sight when she was aged six due to an infection, but that didn’t stop her taking to the slopes thanks to her mum’s encouragement, acting as her first guide.
She was unable to race competitively until she was 13 but, just two years later, Knight was a Paralympian.
Brett Wild and Millie Knight at PyeongChang team launch
Classified as visually impaired B2 Knight has operated at full throttle ever since, juggling studies with skiing and her six World Championship medals so far.
Now racing with Wild, a Royal Navy submariner who was released for two years to allow him to compete, the pair have struck up a world-conquering partnership.
“Millie and I had a week in Austria, it was white-out and it was really, really hard to guide, I’d only been used to getting yourself down the hill as fast as possible, but I thought to just ask as many questions as I could to learn as fast as possible,” he said.
“We got on straight away, Millie asked me to go over to Aspen for World Cup finals, and at that point the Navy had given me four weeks off before going back to work. Then we came back with three gold medals and that convinced them to release me for two years.
“Now it’s about finding the fastest line, looking as far ahead as possible as well as my own technical skiing, because if I do anything sloppy then Millie will replicate that.”
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