European record haul for Sammi

Samantha Kinghorn.
Samantha Kinghorn.

Following her European record haul in Switzerland last weekend, Berwickshire wheelchair racer Sammi Kinghorn now has the Rio Paralympics firmly in her sights.

The 20-year-old from Gordon set four European marks at the IPC Grand Prix event, including breaking two records which were held by 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

“Tanni is the greatest role model in Para-sport, and is the one who people know, so to break her records is special,” Sammi told BBC Sport.

“I’ve known her since I started wheelchair racing. The records have always been there and I’ve always wanted to get them but I never thought it would be this quick.”

Sammi started wheelchair racing in 2012, less than two years after being left paralysed in an accident, and she admits her performances across the four days of competition were a surprise, having missed her first couple of competitions of the year after being hospitalised with blood poisoning in her elbow.

“I was hoping to get some personal bests but I didn’t think I would do that well,” she said. “I had a good winter’s training so maybe I just needed a bit of rest.

“It is a worry when things like that happen because you want to wrap yourself in cotton wool, but I can’t help things like that, so as long as I can look after parts of my body like my shoulder and wrist, then you just have to hope for the best.”

Sammi clocked 29.48 seconds for the T53 200m, beating Grey-Thompson’s record of 29.66 which had stood since 2004, and 55.27secs for the 400m, surpassing the 56.28 from 2003 and also set new bests in the 100m (16.62) and 800m (1:53.40).

And Grey-Thompson showed her appreciation for the efforts of the Scot, who will find out in mid-July whether she has made the GB team for Rio where she would compete in the 100m, 400m and 800m.

“She tweeted me congratulations which was really nice,” explained Sammi, who is off to the USA for two more competitions before going back into hard training to peak again in Rio.

Sammi added: “I think the 400m is my best event - I enjoy it more. I tend to panic in the 100m because I get nervous at the start and if you muck up the start that’s it, whereas in the 400m you get to relax, look around, see who is in front and chase them. It is the one I am ranked highest in.

“I’ve no idea what I can achieve in Rio. It will be my first Paralympics so top six in the world would be great but it is exciting for me to know I’m up there and racing against the best in the world.”