BU Athlete: Saskia Sills Athlete’s Story
Written by: Jason Blackburn
Saskia Sills was one of Bournemouth University’s most formidable young athletes and has successfully completed her Geography degree.
Her love of adventure and being outdoors has accompanied her throughout life, born in Cornwall in 1996, Saskia recalls being adventurous from a young age, stating that she ‘always played outside’ with her twin sister, Imogen and her older brother Tommy. Windsurfing runs in the family, with Sam Sills being a two-time world-champion and Imogen Sills having been Saskia’s teammate and training partner for several years (and now coach of the Norwegian Windsurfing team).
Saskia Sills: Born on the Water
Sports Scholar: Saskia Sills
Directed, Filmed & Edited by: Tim Murch
During her time at Bournemouth University, Saskia has had the full support of the whole BU community and especially the SportBU team and its facilities. This support in turn has helped her achieve her potential, from the multitude of highly qualified fitness coaches, to being granted time away from her studies in order to adequately prepare for big competitions. Everyone at SportBU is proud to have been a part of Saskia’s development as an athlete.
Saskia recounts her earliest memory of winning a meaningful competition as being the 2007 National Championships, in which all three of the Sills siblings won their respective categories! Saskia’s youth career was an unbridled success, that culminated in her winning various honours including the U17 Techno293 World title in 2011 and the 2012 Youth Worlds gold after her move in to the RS:X fleet. Saskia was even nominated for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2012, a testament to her early success.
Saskia’s road was not destined to be an easy one but this adversity formed an ability to cope with diverse and difficult circumstances, that can mould and strengthen a person’s character. Following a year-long struggle with form, Saskia was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome of the Forearms, an exceptionally painful condition that is the result of bleeding or swelling within enclosed muscle groups. Left unchecked, Compartment Syndrome can result in severe injury, or even disability, however Saskia was fortunate enough to be given corrective surgery. Saskia was then diagnosed with Coeliac disease, in which the small intestine becomes inflamed and is thus unable to absorb nutrients. Left untreated, Coeliac disease can severely impact one’s energy levels; Saskia was left perpetually fatigued, even falling asleep in a team-meeting one day before the World Championships! This left her with no choice, Saskia had to undergo a gradual rehabilitation programme involving light aerobic exercise, designed to return her to full fitness in a safe manner. Having worked hard to rebuild her fitness, Saskia was ready for her first strength training session in her bid to get match-fit, however, the stars seemingly refused to align for her, with her suffering a burst appendix that rendered her 5 months’ rehab moot.
Saskia, determined not to miss any more time on the competitive circuit, entered the 2017 World Championships in Tokyo, a mere 2 months after her surgery. In Born on the Water, Saskia recounts her experience, describing that following her surgery she could ‘barely pick up a knife and fork’. Though it took an immense display of resilience and mental fortitude to be able to sail at international level just two months following surgery, Saskia was ultimately nowhere near the competitive level that she would have liked to have performed at, finishing 56th out of 60 entrants. Saskia described her time there as ‘a really bad experience’, but whatever painful lessons she was forced to learn were not going to defeat her that easily.
Following the 2017 World Championships, Saskia opted to return home to Weymouth and focus on her recovery and training. Weymouth had been the home of many previous successes for Saskia, not least the 2015 BUCS National Windsurfing Championships in which she took a clean sweep of victories! On this familiar territory, Saskia began to regain her strength and form, and before long she was participating in the 2018 Aarhus Sailing World Championships, in which she led the first day, an incredible turnaround from the previous year. Finishing an impressive fourth overall, Saskia has given herself an incredible platform upon which she can achieve her goals of becoming an Olympian and achieving victory in the 2022 Sailing World Championships. Imogen Sills describes this aptly: ‘her success is a testament to her character’. Saskia Sills’ road to success has been anything but easy, she has overcome more than her fair share of adversity and is stronger as a result of it and is ready to make an indelible mark on the senior international stage.
The recent success at the World Cup Series and winning a silver medal demonstrates that Saskia is still on track with her goals and continuing to prove her ability to the field of international competitors in front of her (click for full article).
Watch for Saskia as she will not give up on her dream