In the space of 18 months University of Exeter student Freya Black has gone from committed beginner to medal contender in international sailing’s competitive Mixed 470 class. The philosophy and politics undergraduate checked in with us after she was recognised as the athlete with Most Potential at the 2021 TASS Stars awards.

TASS: How much does it mean to you to have won a TASS Stars award?

Freya Black: It’s a real honour especially when you look at how deserving the other nominees are. It feels great to be recognised and I’m really happy.

TASS: How challenging has the past 12 months been – as a student and an athlete?

FB: It’s been pretty hard. Planning and organising is key to how I manage my time between sailing and university. With Covid changing our sailing plans a lot, it’s been hard to stay on track with my studying. At points, it’s been pretty stressful but it always works itself out.

TASS: What have been your proudest achievements during this period?

FB: My proudest achievements were finishing fifth overall at the World Championships in March and just missing the podium — so finishing fourth — at the Junior World Championships in July. I’ve also managed to stay on track for a 2:1 for my degree which I’m also really pleased with.

TASS: What do you hope to go on to achieve during the next 12 months?

FB: I hope to get closer to my goal of being selected for the 2024 Olympic Games. This year will be an important year to stay on track and perform at our outcome regattas of Worlds and Europeans.

TASS: Why is it important to you to continue following a dual career pathway?

FB: It means I gain more of the skills needed to become a great athlete. Having to manage both sailing and university is challenging but it does allow me to develop and become a more rounded athlete.

TASS: Can you describe how being a TASS supported student athlete helps you?

FB: TASS has really helped me manage my workload at university. With the help of my mentor I’ve been able to fit my university work into a busy schedule. The S&C has also been really specific to my sailing and has helped me make big improvements to my fitness. The support from TASS has been really beneficial and I’m very grateful for it.

TASS: Do you have a message for dual career athletes working hard to achieve their goals – both sporting and educational?

FB: It can be difficult at times to achieve all of your goals as a dual career athlete. But the support around you can really help and I would encourage you to make the most of the people around you to succeed.

Freya was nominated as the athlete with Most Potential at the 2021 TASS Stars awards following a breakout 18 months. The 20-year-old made the transition from the 29er class into the Mixed 470 class and found herself in medal contention at both the Under 24 and Senior World Championships earlier this year. On course to compete at Paris 2024, the speed of her progress and level of performance has made the sailing world sit up and take notice.