16 Mar 2014

Flagbearer Millie Knight: GB’s youngest-ever Winter Olympian

Millie Knight, who carried the union jack at the Sochi Paralympics opening, is just 15, so taking part in skiing events for the visually impaired will give vital experience ahead of the 2018 Games.

Millie Knight (Getty Images)

Aged just 15, Millie Knight is the youngest member of the GB squad in Sochi and Britain’s youngest ever Winter Olympian, writes Becky Horsbrugh. She was chosen to be ParalympicsGB’s flagbearer at this year’s opening ceremony.

She has to combine skiing with studying for her GCSEs at the King’s School in Canterbury, Kent, but has been given two months off for the games.

She began losing her sight as a youngster. Knight grew up on a farm and at the age of three was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease that can be passed from animals to humans. At first she lost the sight in her right eye, and by the age of seven her left eye was affected as well. She now has only peripheral vision, no central vision, of just under two metres.

The teenager first tried skiing on a family holiday eight years ago, and joined the British disabled ski team’s development squad in November 2012 after meeting former Paralympic skier Sean Rose at the London Ski and Snowboard Show.

Her mother acted as her first guide but in December she teamed up with 18-year-old ski instructor Rachael Ferrier, who will partner her in Sochi.

Being so young and relatively inexperienced, there is no real pressure on Knight to medal in Sochi, but the experience will be invaluable for the 15-year-old as preparation for the 2018 games in South Korea.

In action

12 March: slalom

16 March: giant slalom

Becky Horsbrugh is a producer for Channel 4 News