EXCLUSIVE: Paralympic skier Millie Knight on the telepathic relationship with her guide and her dream to meet The Script
What connects bluetooth, The Script, telepathy and Paralympic skiing?
Answer: Millie Knight.
The 20-year-old Paralympic skier spoke exclusively to NewsChain about the importance of her relationship with her guide skier and how listening to The Script keeps her motivated.
The three time Paralympic medallist - two silvers and one bronze - contracted an infection in her right eye when she was just one-year-old.
The infection spread and within five years she had lost most of her sight and as a result only has 8-10% vision.
“Basically I can see about two metres unclearly,” she says. “I have no central vision so I can’t recognise people’s faces or anything like that.”
Knight is guided down the slopes by submariner Brett Wild over a variety of disciplines; downhill, super-G, slalom, and giant slalom.
Speaking about how much Wild has helped her, she says: “He is absolutely fantastic. I know I’m extremely biased but he’s great. He acts as my eyes for the race in a way.”
B2 category skiers like Knight are classified as those who are visually impaired but not to the extent of being classified blind.
Competitors race two metres behind a sighted guide who wears a luminous vest and they communicate via bluetooth in their helmets throughout the race.
But for Knight and Wild, who are now so accustomed to racing together, this is almost unnecessary.
“We’re pretty much telepathic now,” says the young skier. “Brett can even tell how confident I’m feeling just by the sound of my breathing. It’s really useful.
“That relationship is so important because if there isn’t the full trust there then it’s not going to work. I’ve had thousands of guides, starting with my Mum as my first one, but Brett is just incredible.
“The bond between Brett and me is the most important thing in my sport and I’ll have him until we reach our goal. And the goal is gold. In everything.”
Guides can be either male or female, although Knight admits that she prefers having male guides for one reason in particular.
She says: “I’ve found that having a male guide is better because fundamentally we don’t have to share rooms so we’re only spending 12 hours with each other. When it’s a female it’s a full on 24 hours and you really need some space from each other."
In 2014, while most other teens were worrying about their GCSEs, 15-year-old Knight was writing her name into the record books as the youngest British Paralympian of all time, and was also selected to carry the flag.
However, despite all of her incredible achievements in sport, her dream is something a little unexpected.
“Oh my god, I want to meet The Script,” she says with palpable excitement in her voice.
“I’m their biggest fan. Meeting them is my goal. Beyond winning gold medals it would be the pinnacle of my life!"
Her favourite track of theirs is 'Hall of Fame' as it resonates with her in a particular way.
“It’s all about fighting to reach your goal,” she says. “I always say the opening lyrics 'you can be the greatest, you can be the best, you can be the King Kong banging on your chest' before I race.”
For Knight and Wild, the focus is now on the upcoming season, with the first race scheduled for December 17 in Marmot, Canada.
But Knight's long-term goal remains Olympic victory in Beijing in 2022.
She says: "The prospects for 2022 are the most positive they’ve looked and we’re really excited to build up to it.”
An inspiration to many with injury or illness, Knight has a powerful message for all those who do not believe they can achieve their goals.
She says: “Don’t let anything get in the way. Don’t make it the reason you don’t do things. You can do it anyway. You can achieve whatever you want.”