Paralympic athlete Millie Knight suffered four concussions in just five years, which left her contemplating her future in alpine skiing
Visually impaired alpine skier Millie Knight is set for her third appearance at the Winter Paralympics this year, having made her debut as a 15-year-old in 2014 and then won three medals in 2018.
However, the 23-year-old almost quit the sport after suffering four concussions in just five years, with the accidents causing her psychological trauma, which she has worked hard with sports psychologists to bounce back from.
Knight told the Telegraph : “Circa 2017, I was a young teenager who was carefree who had never had a big crash and never fully understood that the sport that I did was dangerous. So I took the risks.
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“I wanted to go as fast as possible. And then I had these crashes and it was a massive sense of reality. I gained a sense of mortality, I guess. Fear sunk in, which was obviously not present before.”
That first big crash came during the 2017 World Championships in Italy, where she hit some crash barriers after winning her first gold medal in downhill skiing.
That was followed by another crash in the Paralympic test event just a month later, where Knight dislocated her jaw and suffered a second concussion after crashing at the finish line in the super-G event.
“It was pretty hideous,” Knight told the Independent about her second head injury. “I couldn’t really do anything.
“Walking was difficult because my balance was completely gone. Any bright lights, noises – I couldn’t look up without feeling sick. Everything was just difficult, it affected me so badly.”
It took her six months to return to the sport after that crash, with Knight still struggling with the psychological effects of the two crashes.
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“It was just horrendous,” she added. “We just did snow ploughs for like a month because that was the only speed I could cope with. I was absolutely terrified, the fear was beyond imaginable.”
However, she has gradually been able to rebuild her confidence and, after winning gold in the super-combined event at the World Championships in January, Knight is in good form ahead of the Paralympics where she is hoping to add to her medal tally.