Meet the team: Sam Sills
From junior world champion to a spot on Team GB
Sam Sills is breathing a huge sigh of relief as his last shot at reaching an Olympic Games has paid off.
The windsurfer from Cornwall has been selected to represent Team GB in sailing at Paris 2024.
The former junior world champion returned to competitive sailing in 2020 to race in the new Olympic discipline iQFOIL and put his life on hold to become an Olympian.
“It's a big relief actually, it's pretty amazing,” Sills said. “It was probably a 20-year journey to get there.
“It was really hard and I can't really believe that it's all coming together. I'm pretty tired, but also happy and very excited to just get to work and try and bring home a gold medal for Great Britain, that’s the plan.
“Coming back, that moment it definitely felt like this is it, let's go for it and put everything I could into it.
“It was a big commitment, I studied naval architecture and had my own company and I was designing hydrofoils and windsurfing equipment, and I put all that on hold to do this.
“That was a big step and actually a really big sacrifice. There have been three Christmases in a row where I didn't see my family.
“I stayed training out alone in the Canary Islands and then my uncle passed away and I didn't get to go and see him as I had the Olympic trials coming up, that was really difficult.
“I missed my 30th birthday just to keep training and get to the next trials process and there was a lot of commitment and sacrifice, but it was worth it.”
Setbacks and comebacks
Sills faced a whirlwind few weeks this summer as he battled to qualify Great Britain a spot at the Games, clinching a place at August’s World Championships in the Hague.
He may have felt his luck had run out when two weeks before the Olympic test event in Marseille, where the Paris 2024 sailing will be held, he was involved in a traffic accident.
The Roadford Lake sailor recovered to finish seventh but is hoping for a smoother sailing in the build-up to next year’s showpiece.
He added: “48 hours before the end of the World Championships we weren’t actually a qualifying nation.
“That day was an immense amount of pressure, but I fortunately managed to pull through and get into the top ten for the medal race and then get into the top five for the final.
“And that was a very special moment to have done that and thank God we did because it gives us this year to plan out the Olympics and hopefully give us the best shot we have to win it.
“My experience at the test event was horrific, two weeks before I got hit in a traffic accident on the way to training and I almost broke my wrist.
“I went into the event having done no training for a couple of weeks and results were not going my way, it was really distressing.
“But I managed to come back throughout the event and get into the final, but I made some mistakes in the final and I finished seventh overall.
“It's going to be a bit of a switch trying to get my head around that experience and to try and have a positive time next year.”