By James Reid
Saskia Sills is determined to prove her doubters wrong by qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics Games and going for gold.
Following her bronze medal performance at the 2021 iQFoil World Championships – Sills is convinced she has what it takes to represent Team GB in Paris.
Sills’ progress was hampered in recent years after experiencing a bout of glandular fever in 2019 that left her bed-bound – but she bounced-back to secure bronze in the inaugural event after iQFoil replaced the RS:X class.
And while the 25-year-old admits it has been difficult to adapt to the new equipment, Sills is focused on making it to France in two years’ time and showing she deserves to perform on the biggest global stage.
"I literally went from not having enough energy in January 2020 to make a cup of tea to be medalling in the World Championships in August 2021,” said Sills, speaking ahead of the upcoming World Championships.
“That was just an amazing feeling and it was always my goal.
"I think a lot of people maybe wrote me off and said I wasn't coming back because it was quite a mean feat to come back from.
“But I chipped away and it made that medal even more important to me and the people around me as well.
"It showed that even if you have to fight off adversity you can still achieve your dreams."
Two years in the making... #ChasingTokyo is LIVE!
Discover the hidden story of the world's most successful Olympic sailing team and their unprecedented journey to @Tokyo2020.
Watch here 👇https://t.co/zxpe2qktIs@TeamGB @Olympics @OrilloFilms @RYA @worldsailing
— British Sailing Team (@BritishSailing) July 28, 2022
With Paris just two years away, there is little time for Sills and her fellow sailors to get used to the new equipment in her class.
But the Cornwall-born athlete believes it is all part of competing at the very top, and is taking it in her stride as she chases her Olympic dream.
“It's pretty much like changing sport,” added Sills. “Everyone's had to deal with it but I guess being a good athlete means you're able to learn and adapt.
"It was very difficult to begin with but it's a lot of fun and I think we're very fortunate to be able to continue our sport throughout the pandemic
"The sport's really evolved and changed in a really short amount of time which has been fascinating and amazing to be part of that change."
Sills is tackling the change alongside twin sister Imogen, who also competes in the iQFoil class and will also be vying for that coveted ticket to Paris.
The incredible story of the most successful Olympic sailing team 🇬🇧⛵ and their unprecedented journey to #Tokyo2020
Discover more in our new, original documentary film, Chasing Tokyo! 🎟️@TeamGB | @hannahmills1988 | @SquiresWindsurf | @patience_luke | @McintyreEilidh pic.twitter.com/lJykg1CxuZ
— The Olympic Games (@Olympics) July 28, 2022
And Sills admits it is great to have that family bond pushing each other on, even if it comes with its own challenges.
“Sailing and competing and training with your twin has it's own challenges which I'm sure people can imagine but I think we've been working a lot on how we can manage that and still come off the water and be the best of friends everyday,” said Sills.
“Having someone you can relate to and having someone who understands you is so important in any walks of life and to have her be there every step of the way through the highs and the lows, even through we're competing against each other, is pretty special.
"I don’t think we really see it as competing against each other. We both want the best for each other and if it means beating me in a race and competition it's great and I'm really happy for her and vice versa.
"To have someone there at the end of the day to be loving you unconditionally and supporting you is pretty special and very unique."
And with the support of her family behind her, including big brother Sam, who also competes in iQFoil, Sills has her eyes firmly fixed on making the Olympics.
“The Olympics for any sports event is kind of the pinnacle and everyone wants to go,” she added.
"I've seen friends win Olympic medals and it's been so special and I really want that for myself too.
"It would be super special, it's just a matter of qualifying and getting there and obviously it's a matter of beating my sister which is slightly more complicated - but we will deal with that bridge when we have to come to it."
The British Sailing Team are the most successful national Olympic sailing team of all time and will proudly fly the flag for Great Britain at Paris 2024