Double World Championship gold winner and record breaker Samantha Kinghorn departs for Tenerife this weekend at the start of a hopeful bid for Commonwealth Games glory.
The wheelchair racer from Gordon is heading for the sun on Saturday to join a training camp, before she and the rest of the Borders sportsmen and women in Team Scotland’s squad head out to Australia’s Gold Coast for the March Games spectacular.
Sammi, as her friends know her, has already done a vast amount to raise awareness and respect for disability sport – and the year just ended has seen another remarkable feat of achievements.
She captured gold medals at 100m and 200m, and set a new world record, in the World Para Athletics Championsips in London, having earlier claimed her first world record at an event in Arizona.
She was named Scottish Sportsperson of the Year and Para-sport Athlete of the Year at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards – and followed this up last month with a double triumph at the Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards, winning the Disability Award and also the Scottish Sports Personality Award – the first para athlete to do so.
Ex-Earlston High School pupil Sammi said she still had difficulty believing her double World Championship success actually occurred.
“It was really special to do that at home games, with friends and family in the crowd,” she said.
But, understandably, it was still the highlight of an incredible year, topped off by qualification for the Commonwealth squad.
Sammi (22) hoped her recent award success might also help raise the profile of sport for people with disabilities.
“We deserve to be appreciated on the same level as able-bodied athletes,” she said. “This may help get the ball rolling in terms of getting us noticed, and appreciation that we put in just as much hard work as anybody else.”
It was very nice, she added, to be recognised as not just a disabled sports person but a Scottish sports person.
Sammi, a full-time athlete now living in Glasgow, is due to compete in the 1500m and the marathon in Australia, as her 100m and 200m sprint events are not included in the Commonwealth Games.
Delighted to be selected, she said: “I went to the Glasgow Games in 2014 – it was my first ever major. It’s really nice to be in a multi-sport event because, normally, you are just in athletics. But multi-sport events are great – it means you can go and watch other sports and cheer everyone else on. Also, as we are running parallel, we run along with the able-bodied – we stay at same place and attend the same opening ceremony.
“It’s exciting to pull on the Scotland vest and compete for my country.”
After Australia, next for Sammi will be qualifiers for the 2019 World Championships and then the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.