A disabled Borders athlete set to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was given a standing ovation by councillors last week, writes Andrew Keddie.
Wheelchair racer Samantha Kinghorn, 18, had been invited to attend the full meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday by convener Councillor Graham Garvie.
“You have brought enormous credit to yourself, your family and to the Scottish Borders on an international stage, and we are all very grateful,” said Mr Garvie.
He recounted how four years ago, Samantha, from Gordon, sustained a broken back after being crushed by snow on the Berwickshire farm where her dad works.
Paralysed from the waist down, she had spent five months in the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, when her physiotherapist took her to Stoke Mandeville to see the famous hospital’s Spinal Unit Games.
Samantha was “hooked”, and took part in her first competitive wheelchair race in the 2012 London Mini Marathon, finishing runner-up.
Having set Scottish records in the 100m and 200m, she was selected to represent Scotland in this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games, qualifying for the final in the T54 1,500m, where she finished fifth.
The following month, she was in Swansea for the IPC (International Paralympics Committee) European Championships, winning three gold medals in the 100m, 400m and 800m events. By that time, Samantha had already qualified for Rio in 2016.
“Your achievements and your story are utterly inspirational,” said Mr Garvie, before presenting a smiling Samantha with a scarf from Lochcarron of Scotland.
“This is just a small token of this council’s appreciation which I know is felt across the Borders,” he added.
Earlier, Mr Garvie had said the council also wanted to acknowledge the achievements of visually-impaired runner Libby Cleghorn from Newcastleton who, like Samantha, had qualified for the 2016 Paralympics.
Unfortunately, Libby, 24, was unable to attend as she is still suffering from the illness which saw her miss the Swansea event.
“Like Samantha Kinghorn, Libby is a wonderful ambassador for disabled sport and the Borders,” said Mr Garvie.