Inspirational Imogen Sills is hoping to defy the odds and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games despite all the challenges that have nearly thrown the sailor overboard.
Sills was knocked off course by injury and chronic fatigue, moved to Norway and nearly turned her back on the sport, before a bout of Covid and two recent broken ribs looked to further halt her progress.
But the 25-year-old is refusing to lie down despite the setbacks and has her eyes firmly focused on France in two years’ time.
One year ago today... The medal that kickstarted our @Tokyo2020 success.@emma_wilson961's 🥉 was the perfect motivator for our @TeamGB athletes.
Go behind the scenes of these moments in our documentary #ChasingTokyo 👉 https://t.co/zxpe2qktIs
📷 @SailingEnergy pic.twitter.com/zJGz8kjW9X
— British Sailing Team (@BritishSailing) July 31, 2022
“Sometimes I kind of catch myself and I’m like ‘at this point, am I just being stupid?’,” said Sills, who competes in the new iQFoil class and was speaking ahead of October’s World Championships.
“Is everybody looking at me thinking ‘what is this girl doing just give up’?
“That’s not even an option for me. Yes, it’s really hard mentally and it’s been some of toughest, most soul-searching months I’ve ever been through but I’ve never felt so supported as I do now.
“It’s just incredible because I would have never had this gratitude or this realisation that people care if I didn’t go through this awful time.
“That’s the bit that keeps me going, that it’s not only me, I’ve got people that believe in me. I want to make myself proud and I’m not ready for this to end.”
Chronic fatigue left Sills bed bound at times, but the Cornish sailor has refused to give up despite the challenges it has posed.
The 25-year-old is part of a select group travelling to the Olympic venue in Marseille this summer, and Sills has to remind herself of the progress she has made to remain at an elite level.
“My build-up is really different to what the other girls’ look like right now, which is a bit isolating and lonely, but it’s what’s good for me,” admitted Sills.
“I’m a little bit off where I want to be in my Olympic preparations but all I can do is focus on the now, focus on getting back, pushing through all the setbacks and just hope I’ll be ready by the time the trials come.
“I find myself getting frustrated and angry that I’m not where they are.
“Then I take some minutes to just have a reset in my mind – these girls are the best in the world, I’m so lucky that I’m still included in this top band.
“There’s so many girls below me that would do anything to be in my position.”
Throughout it all, Sills has been supported by her family – particularly her identical twin sister Saskia who also competes in the iQFoil class.
At this time of great sadness, we couldn't be more proud to be British 🇬🇧
The @470Sailing European Championships start tomorrow. As a mark of respect, our sailors will be wearing black arm bands during competition. Wish us luck 🤞
Results 👉 https://t.co/JP4hCCgpSS pic.twitter.com/SqcgtWrKNS
— British Sailing Team (@BritishSailing) September 12, 2022
“I’m almost crying just thinking about it,” reflected Sills on her family’s support.
“They’re incredible and it’s their unconditional support that I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t doing this with them.
“One of the most heart-breaking things was when I got injured five years ago was that it was the end of mine and my twin’s journey.
“We’d done it together, we’d been each other’s support and suddenly I was gone and we had to learn how to live without each other.
“It’s an unbreakable bond that’s so special.”
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