From Millie Knight to Gregor Ewan

By Will Jennings in Beijing

Eve Muirhead and Bruce Mouat have emerged as Britain’s Beijing heroes so far as their last-gasp curling medals helped salvage Team GB’s Winter Olympic campaign.

But just 13 days later in the heart of a wind-swept Chinese capital, the nation’s Paralympic stars now begin their assault on the Games aiming to emulate their stunning haul of seven medals secured in PyeongChang four years ago.

Several British protagonists harbour genuine podium hopes and we’ve picked out five who could sparkle as the Paralympic pyrotechnics get underway.

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Team GB ones to watch

Millie Knight

Age: 23

Hometown: Canterbury

When in action: Saturday 5 March, Sunday 6 March, Tuesday 8 March, Friday 11 March, Sunday 13 March

Major results: 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games: – Downhill: Silver, Super-G: Silver, Slalom: Bronze

Chances out of 10 (to win a medal): 8

Millie Knight catapulted herself into the global spotlight at Sochi 2014 by becoming the youngest athlete to ever represent ParalympicsGB at Winter Games at the age of 15.

Four years later and with valuable experience under her belt, she became one of the faces of the British team as her thrilling hat-trick of medals – two silver, one bronze – helped propel the team to their greatest Winter Games since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.

Knight has endured a rocky ride on the gruelling international circuit since, however, suffering four concussions and even flirting with the prospect of hanging up her skis after a serious incident in Leogang, Austria, last February.

But she bounced back when it mattered by claiming Super Combined gold and Super-G bronze – on her 23rd birthday – at the recent World Championships with guide Brett Wild and arrives in Beijing with momentum.

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Menna Fitzpatrick

Age: 23

Hometown: Macclesfield

When in action: Saturday 5 March, Sunday 6 March, Tuesday 8 March, Friday 11 March, Sunday 13 March

Major results: 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games: – Slalom: Gold, Super Combined: Silver, Giant Slalom: Silver, Super-G: Bronze

Chances out of 10 (to win a medal): 7

Menna Fitzpatrick was the unequivocal star of Britain’s PyeongChang campaign as her four medals formed the foundations for Britain’s biggest medal tally for 34 years.

The Macclesfield ace, 23, has racked up a similarly bulging haul of silverware in the years since and arrives in Beijing off the back of slalom gold and super combined silver at January’s World Championships.

Fitzpatrick and Knight represent two vital cogs in the 24-strong ParalympicsGB machine and despite Fitzpatrick being forced to change guides on the eve of the Games – Katie Guest withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus – they will hope to replicate their Korean exploits on the Yanqing slopes this weekend.

File photo dated 15-02-2018 of Great Britain Para Snowboarder James Barnes-Miller. Barnes-Miller is bidding to make history as Britain?s first Paralympic medallist in his sport. Issue date: Friday February 25, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story PARALYMPICS Britain. Photo credit should read Nick Potts/PA Wire.James Barnes-Miller is looking to make history for Team GB (Photo: PA)

James Barnes-Miller

Age: 32

Hometown: Tunbridge Wells

When in action: Sunday 6 March, Monday 7 March, Saturday 12 March

Major results: 2021 World Championships, Lillehammer, Norway (delayed to January 2022) – Snowboard Cross: Silver, Banked Slalom: Bronze, Snowboard Cross team: Bronze

Chances out of 10 (to win a medal): 7

Snowboard star James Barnes-Miller made his Paralympic bow at PyeongChang 2018 and admits he purely focussed on immersing himself in the experience after claiming seventh and 10th-place finishes.

He’s now cranking up for a serious shot at a medal, however, banking three podium finishes at the recent World Championships in Lillehammer to propel himself into contention.

The Kent star fancies his chances in the chaotic snowboard cross event and is certainly one to watch when he takes to the Zhangjiakou snow on Sunday.

Gregor Ewan

Age: 50

Hometown: Dundee

When in action: Saturday 5 March, Sunday 6 March, Monday 7 March, Tuesday 8 March, Wednesday 9 March, Thursday 10 March

Major results: 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games: Bronze

Chances out of 10 (to win a medal): 6

Curling finally came home last month as Muirhead’s women’s stars grabbed an unforgettable gold medal – the first for 20 years since Rhona Martin’s storied Stone of Destiny in Salt Lake City – at the Ice Cube.

The sport captured the hearts of the nation as Mouat’s men also scooped silver and now it’s the wheelchair curlers’ time to shine as they kick off their Paralympic odyssey on Saturday.

Veteran curler Ewan, 50, was part of the team who bagged bronze at Sochi 2014 before embarking on a gruelling fitness regime – losing eight stone – since a disappointing seventh-place finish in PyeongChang.

The Dundee dynamo is now a man on a mission and can kick off his latest Paralympic quest in style when Britain do battle with Norway and USA on Saturday.

Shona Brownlee

Age: 42

Hometown: Livingstone

When in action: Sunday 6 March, Tuesday 8 March, Friday 11 March, Sunday 13 March

Major results: 2021 World Para Snowsports Championships, Lillehammer, Norway (delayed to 2022) – Super-G: silver, Giant Slalom: Bronze

Chances out of 10 (to win a medal): 7

Masters Music graduate Shona Brownlee hit all the right notes in January as she took her World Championship debut in Lillehammer by storm.

The Scot, who used to serve in the Royal Air Force, grabbed Super-G silver and giant slalom bronze to cap a searing first season on the national Para Snowsport squad after learning how to ski through the Ministry of Defence’s Battle Back programme.

Brownlee, also a para triathlete, was awarded RAF Sportswoman of the Year in 2021 and will hope to make her maiden shot at Paralympic duty count in Beijing this weekend.

Team GB’s squad for Beijing 2022 in full

Alpine Skiing

  • Shona Brownlee, Women’s Seated
  • Menna Fitzpatrick, Women’s Visually Impaired
  • Gary Smith, Guide
  • Millie Knight, Women’s Visually Impaired
  • Brett Wild, Guide
  • Dan Sheen, Men’s Seated
  • Neil Simpson, Men’s Visually Impaired
  • Andrew Simpson, Guide
  • Alex Slegg, Men’s Seated
  • James Whitley, Men’s Standing

Nordic Skiing

  • Steve Arnold, Men’s Seated Cross-Country and Biathlon
  • Callum Deboys, Men’s Seated Cross-Country and Biathlon
  • Hope Gordon, Women’s Seated Cross-Country
  • Scott Meenagh, Men’s Seated Cross-Country and Biathlon
  • Steve Thomas, Men’s Seated Cross-Country

Para Snowboarding

  • James Barnes-Miller, SB-UL
  • Ollie Hill, SB-LL2
  • Andy Macleod, SB-LL2
  • Owen Pick, SB-LL2

Wheelchair Curling

  • Hugh Nibloe, Mixed team
  • Gregor Ewan, Mixed team
  • David Melrose, Mixed team
  • Meggan Dawson-Farrell, Mixed team
  • Gary Smith, Mixed team (alternate)

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