Millie Knight: This Kent girl really can!

Image courtesy of Kent Sport

From the water to the slopes and a few kicks in between Millie Knight is a three-time Paralympic medallist, and in January took the bronze, silver, and gold in the Giant Slalom in Slovenia, her first World Cup in two years. It has not been an easy road to this point as after winning the World Championships in 2017 in Italy, Knight had a crash at the Paralympic test events in South Korea.

One can reach up to 115kph (71 mph), so coming to a halt is a challenge. On this occasion, Knight says “I flipped three times and landed on my head each time …. dislocated my jaw and had a severe concussion”. She continues: “I spent the following week in a dark room, not being able to walk properly, lost all my balance, my memory…I lived in a fog for two years.”

Nevertheless, Knight has confronted her lack of confidence head-on: “It took me a very long time…. it was very difficult. You have all these fears that you never had before.” It is clear through Knight’s tenacity and perseverance towards skiing, she resonates the campaign This Girl Can, and indeed This Kent Girl Can. It is the movement to encourage women to take up sport and overcome personal challenges.

Knight now represents the University of Kent at rowing and karate, as well as skiing for Great Britain. Therefore, she harnessed the fear from her accident and embraced other opportunities. Knight started rowing at aged 13, and “no one can see, so we are all in the same boat quite literally” and admits it aids her endurance on the slopes.

To those wishing to try a new sport, Knight says “do it with confidence definitely, and have fun and a giggle”. This is evident in her attitude as she laughs and articulates in an interview with InQuire: ‘with Karate I will be like, ‘right I will be so lucky if I can get through the first round’.” Knight currently stands in the B2 category (visually impaired) for Paralympic skiing. It is inspirational that she overcomes the barriers of vision, and last weekend competed in the Karate BUCS championships.

This Girl Can also stands to aid women to move past societal boundaries and question the categorisations in sport. Knight, as an instructor at the University gym, says “I see so many people come up to me and say ‘I am so scared to go into the weights room’ because it is all just males”. She adds: “You think that everyone is looking at you, but realistically no one else is looking at you, they are looking at themselves.”

Taking Knight’s point into account, we need to diminish this level of paranoia and remind ourselves of the reason why we personally are partaking in exercise.

We should translate Knight’s approach into This Kent Girl Can. “The past has gone; you cannot do anything about the past. You cannot change it or modify it. The future is up to you. For me the results and the outcome all depend on what you do now.”

There are no limitations apart from ourselves. University of Kent has carried out This Kent Girl Can since 2017, and long may it continue with events such as martial arts and self-defence, dance, and rugby.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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