Courtney Knight inspires and enthralls

Courtney Knight is a Paralympian athlete from Canada competing mainly in category P-13 (impaired visibility) discus throw events. Born with less than 10% vision, she has always been a competitive individual – growing up as a child in 100 Mile House, BC, she was heavily involved with sports.

Courtney’s determination to become a Paralympian carried on through her adolescent years. While she was a student at Burnaby Secondary high school, she maintained a balance between both her academic studies and her extra curricular activities. Her perseverance became reality in 1995 when she was the first athlete with a disability to qualify for a provincial team. Courtney represented Team BC at the Western Canada Games and the Canadian Junior Championships in Track and Field. This exposure led her to participating in the next three Paralympics.

The Paralympic Games are held every four years. They take place at the same location and venues two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympic Games. Paralympics are for athletes with a physical disability, whereas the Special Olympics are for athletes with mental disabilities. The name was originally coined as portmanteau combining “paraplegic” (due to its origin as games for people with spinal injuries) and “Olympic” (the inclusion of other disability groups). However, over time, this name became obsolete and a name derived from the Greek preposition (“beside” or “alongside”) was given to this competition so it could be held in parallel with the Olympic Games.

In 1996, Courtney competed in the Summer Paralympics in Atlanta, United States where she won a silver medal in the women’s Discus throw event and finished fourth in the women’s Pentathlon event. She also competed at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, Australia, where she won a silver medal in the women’s Pentathlon and finished fourth in the women’s Discus throw event. In 2004 at the Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece, she won a bronze medal in the women’s Discus throw.

Paralympians train at a high level and have rigorous exercise programs. Courtney trains 11.5 months out of the year six days a week and on days when she competes she eats oatmeal three hours prior to her event. She also eats fruit and drinks water roughly an hour before event time. Due to training and traveling over the last couple of years, Courtney has missed spending time with her family. According to her calculations from January 19th till after the Paralympics she will have spent a total of two weeks at home.

February 15-20th was intense for Courtney and her coach, Don, as they spent time in Mount Washington preparing for the Nationals in Canmore. Upon returning home for five days, her and Don, will head to Whistler for the Paralympics which will take place from March 12-21st. Courtney gets one day off a week. During this time, she likes to read, watch movies and go to Starbucks for coffee with friends. In the off-season she likes to go boating and fishing in the interior.

Courtney’s desire to compete has always come from within as opposed to being motivated by others. Her philosophy is based on inner strength and proof that people with disabilities can overcome challenging situations. She believes that “everyone is capable of reaching the same goals in life but that certain modifications have to take place in order to achieve positive results”. Similarly, Don believes that Paralympians should be known for their abilities rather than their disabilities.

// Safir Lalji


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