The inspiring story of Paralympic contenders Adam and David Knott

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Sunday 19th August 2012

It’s a week since the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, so we’ve had seven days to recover from Boris Johnson’s alarming “dad dancing” and gradually come down to earth after our euphoria about Jessica, Mo, Tom and co.

But the Paralympics are just round the corner and I reckon they’re going to be every bit as uplifting as the Olympics. Actually, if the story of two partially sighted brothers in The Times yesterday is anything to go by, they’ll probably be even more uplifting.

Adam Knott, 17, and his brother David, 15, are both members of Paralympics GB’s six-man goalball squad.

I didn’t know this before either, but goalball is a game where two teams of three players (all blindfolded to ensure a level playing field for differently-sighted players) throw a hard ball with a bell inside at the other team’s goal. It sounds completely terrifying, especially as the ball can fly at you from 18 metres away at 60mph – and you can’t see it.

Hampshire-based Adam and David were born with a condition called oculocutaneous albinism, which means they have only ten per cent of the vision of a normally sighted person. I loved Adam’s brave description of what this actually means. “You know when you go for an eye test and they have that big A on top?” he told interviewer Hilary Rose. “That’s for us. That’s why the big A is there.”

Amazingly, the boys only started playing goalball two years ago, after their dad saw the sport on TV.  Adam was talent-spotted at a Paralympic potential day at Brunel University in 2010, and began training for competition immediately. His younger brother joined him soon after.

They both seem like incredibly level-headed boys, with ultra-supportive parents. In fact their mum Bridget sounds positively heroic. The goalball squad has been training in Winchester, not far from where the family lives, so everyone, even the coach, has been bedding down on mattresses at the Knotts’ house. Asked how many she was cooking for on the night of the interview, Bridget Knott replied airily: “Only ten… not too bad.”

4 comments so far

  • I didn’t think I would be hit with Olympic fever, but I was and now can’t wait for the Paralympics. I also really enjoyed the BBC drama The Best of Men this week that told the story of the start of the Paralympics.

  • I’m really looking forward to the Paralympics too, Jacqui. Can you watch it all in France? And I must catch up with the programme about how the Paralympics started.

  • Thanks so much for your comment, James. Judging by the Opening Ceremony, the Paralympics are going to be amazing. And good luck to Adam and David from me too – we are all rooting for them!

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