Glasgow-born Brett Wild cannot wait to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games as a Guide alongside the super-talented Millie Knight in the para alpine skiing event.
The duo are reigning downhill World champions and will compete alongside Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe in the women’s visually impaired classification for Great Britain in South Korea.
Following her Paralympic debut four years ago Millie, who is 19 and from Kent, has gone from strength-to-strength and firmly established herself as a top contender on the international stage.
And, in January 2017, she and 25-year-old Brett produced a historic performance at the World Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, to claim gold.
For Brett the journey to becoming a Guide has been a fascinating one.
“I was skiing with the Navy over in France in January 2016 and I got a call from Millie’s coach asking if I wanted to take on a trail period with a VI racer,” he stated.
“I have to be honest and say I didn’t know that VI meant visually impaired and I did not know too much at all about para sport, but I was keen to give things a go.
“I was given a week to try it out and myself and Millie met in Austria and got on really well.
“She the asked me to go to America with her for a World Cup competition and we managed to come back with three gold medals so I think then we knew then it was a partnership that had some potential.
“I was then asked to go full-time and the Navy gave me leave to build-up to PyeongChang and rally concentrate on being a Guide and working with Millie.
“What helped me pick things up quite quickly was the communication skills I have learnt in the Navy. Obviously I am in front of Millie as she is skiing and she is going at some pace.
“In that respect she is trusting me with her life, I am her eyes and I have to get her down the run safely. Millie can see up to three metres and she has peripheral vision so I ski within three metres in front of her, wear an orange jacket and we both wear bluetooth headsets.
“I basically tell her everything I can see, the snow conditions, if there is any ice and then she repeats back with a ‘yip’ and then ‘on’ if she wants me to go faster and ‘off’ if she wants me to slow down.
“Since we decided to work together as a pairing we have probably spent 150 days a year together on snow and 50 days a year working in the gym and on other things.”
Brett has found the last two years very rewarding and now has a real admiration for what para athletes do.
“For me, it’s unbelievable to work with some of these athletes and ski with them every day,” he said.
“Sometimes in life you take a lot of things for granted, including sight, but working with Millie has been inspirational.
“She has pushed me to work harder every day and the standard of athletes that we are likely to face out in South Korea is extremely high.
“In terms of expectations we don’t really go with medal goals, we want to get to the bottom of the run with a smile on our faces and what Millie always says is that the results will speak for themselves after that.”
Growing up in a skiing family Brett always going to catch the sporting bug.
He began skiing when he was three and when he was five his dad started managing the ski centre in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.
“I grew up at the centre and then raced for Glasgow Ski Racing before training with the Scotland Development squad before stopping when I was 18 and went to university,” Brett recounts.
“I have always loved skiing, it is in my blood. I thought when I went to uni and then joined the Navy that my chance of ever going to a big event like this had gone.
“My family and my girlfriend are so proud of me and that has made me work hard and the thought of representing Great Britain with Millie out there is amazing. We will give it our all and certainly come back with no regrets.”
“I have built up a great partnership with Brett”
In terms of working with Brett, Millie said: “I’m so happy to be selected to compete at my second Winter Paralympic Games for Great Britain. Four years ago in Sochi was a really fantastic experience and I learned a lot, but competing in Pyeongchang has always been my main goal.
“Since Sochi I’ve been working really hard and have built a really strong partnership with my Guide Brett. We know the competition will be tough in South Korea, but we’re excited for the games and look forward to the challenge ahead.”
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games take place between March 8 and 18.
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