Model who broke her back and feared she would never walk again recovers – and is now set to battle it out to become Britain's windsurfing champ
Sophia Joy Gilje broke her back snowboarding in France in 2008Graduated from St Andrews this summerPreparing to compete in Tiree Wave Classic in Scotland this weekend
16:06 GMT, 11 October 2012
Sophia Joy Gilje is competing in a windsurfing competition in Scotland this weekend, despite breaking her back in 2008
When Sophia Joy Gilje broke her back in a snowboarding accident in 2008, the St Andrews graduate feared she would never walk again.
But the stunning model and keen sportswoman fought her way back to fitness, and is competing in Scotland's top windsurfing competition this weekend in a bid to become Britain's next windsurfing champion.
Miss Gilje, 24, who lives and trains in Port De La Selva in Spain and is currently ranked second in the UK – suffered her original injury in the Pyrenees in southern France while working as a ski instructor.
Afterwards, the part-time model (who specialises in beachwear and sunglasses modelling) underwent intensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy in attempt to recover.
She spent several hours a day slowly building up her strength, and battled her way back to reasonable health only to suffer a devastating blow when she fell and injured her spine again earlier this year while studying for her masters in sustainable development.
The injury was so severe the adventure-lover was warned not to use her arms for six weeks.
Miss Gilje, who graduated from university this summer, said: 'Maybe because of my studying I hadn't been training enough. My vertebrae isn't the same shape as it used to be, and I hurt myself badly.
'I thought that after I had graduated I was ready to really start my new life, but it didn't end up that way. It was very frustrating, and it's not the first time it's happened.
Though she can no longer snowboard, the glamorous adrenaline junkie will take
part in this year's Tiree Wave Classic windsurfing competition.
Sophia Joy Gilje, 24, was working as a snowboarding instructor in the Pyrenees when she broke her back in an accident
Though Sophia can no longer snowboard, she has put all her energy into windsurfing and is now ranked second in the country
Speaking about her rehabilitation,
Miss Gilje said: 'It was long and boring, and I had to do lots of
exercises every day to get my back in shape again. But now I’m okay –
and I'm really excited, and just can't wait to get back to Tiree.'
'I thought that after I had graduated I was
ready to really start my new life, but it didn't end up that way. It
was very frustrating.'
competition, which begins on Saturday and is backed by EventScotlan, is
Britain's most important and longest-standing event on the British
Wavessailing Association’s UK Wave tour.
on the remote Inner-Hebridean island of Tiree, the week-long event is
the third leg of the tour after events in Wales and Ireland, and Sophia
currently sits in second place. This time she comes to the competition
fresh from competing in an event in Ireland nearly
two weeks ago.
When Sophia Joy Gilje broke her back in a snowboarding accident in 2008, the St Andrews graduate feared she would never walk again
After her accident in 2008, Sophia underwent extensive physiotherapy to get back into shape
Sophia – who was born in France and raised in Norway before coming to
study in Scotland at St Andrews, the same university attended by Prince William and the former Kate Middleton – finished second in the women's event of last year's Tiree Wave Classic and now is backed by several sponsors.
She said: 'It's awesome, they're really nice as well, like a little family. They look after me very well. I feel supported and it's really good to know that I'm not on my own.
'I'm so happy and really excited. Last year it was the beginning of it all, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again. I loved the whole atmosphere, and the conditions were good.'
'I'm so happy and really excited. Last year it was the beginning of it all, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again'
The adventure-seeking adrenaline junkie, 24, now lives and trains in Port De La Salva in Spain
Sophia was born in France and raised in Norway before coming to study in Scotland at St Andrews, the same university attended by Prince William and the former Kate Middleton