Q & A with Special Olympics Gold Medallist Lilly Mills
May 29, 2019
In March Lily Mills competed in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi and won two gold medals. Lily trains at Islington Tennis Centre. Mark Bullock recently had the opportunity to ask Lily a few questions.
1. How did you feel when you were selected to represent GB at the Special Olympics World Games?
I was very excited and honoured to represent my country and have the opportunity to bring home medals for Great Britain. Knowing that I would be going to Abu Dhabi made me curious at what it would be like and what tennis courts we would play on.
2. How did you feel when you won your first gold medal?
I only really comprehended and understood that I had won a gold medal after the match was over and I had calmed down. I felt shocked and very proud of myself and my doubles partner Ryan. We faced Japan in the final, who were seeded to win the mixed doubles, so beating them was even more of an accomplishment.
3. How did you feel after the second one?
Having won one Gold Medal, winning a second didn't feel real. Having come first in both of my divisions proved to me that all my training and hard work had paid off.
4. What did you enjoy most about the tennis competition at the World Games?
I found the most enjoyable thing was the tennis courts and facilities. Not only were they superb, but it was even more exciting knowing that Nadal and Federer had both played on the same courts, which made me feel like a real champion and inclusive within the sports community.
5. What were your favourite moments away from the tennis in Abu Dhabi?
Before the World Games started we stayed in Dubai as it was our host town and was really nice to see. Whilst there, we were taken to share our experiences and spread the word of inclusive-sport in schools, which I found very fun. The food was also very delicious and healthy.
6. Who has had the greatest influence on your tennis?
My brother George played tennis and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He encouraged me to play. Diego Siqueira was my first coach and taught me the foundations of tennis and made me more confident on the court. After I was selected for the development squad for INAS they recommended I have a performance coach. I then started to be coached by James Mott who has brought my tennis skill to the next level and has taught me specific tactics that I apply in my matches.
7. What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting to play tennis?
First thing is to pick up a racket. But then, you must keep practising and listen to your coach as he/she knows best. When you feel down or lose a match keep determined and resilient because you learn from your mistakes and it only makes you stronger. A balanced lifestyle is important, get enough sleep, eat healthily and stay hydrated, but don't forget to enjoy yourself at the same time.