​Borders wheelchair athlete Samantha Kinghorn hoping for another relay call-up after first medal as team-player

Borderer Samantha Kinghorn enjoyed her first taste of success as a team-player so much she’s hoping it’s not her last.
Samantha Kinghorn celebrating after winning the women’s 800m wheelchair race at the weekend’s London Athletics Meet as part of the 2023 Diamond League series (Pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Samantha Kinghorn celebrating after winning the women’s 800m wheelchair race at the weekend’s London Athletics Meet as part of the 2023 Diamond League series (Pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Samantha Kinghorn celebrating after winning the women’s 800m wheelchair race at the weekend’s London Athletics Meet as part of the 2023 Diamond League series (Pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

​Wheelchair racer Kinghorn helped claim that collective podium place – and the four silver medals that came with it – in the universal 4x100m relay at this year’s World Para Athletics Championships in France earlier this month.

That was the first team medal of a para-athletics career dating back to 2012 but the Gordon 27-year-old enjoyed joining forces with England’s Zac Shaw, Jonnie Peacock and Sophie Hahn so much she’s hoping to try to repeat that feat before too long.

“That was my first team medal,” she said.

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“It was weird because I was asked to be part of the relay squad despite never really having done anything like that before as it had all been individual sport prior to that, so it was really nice actually.

“It was nice to be warming up with everyone and going to the call-room and going out on the track. That was quite nice, and though I was nervous, I was nervous for different reasons because when it’s just me racing, I’ve only kind of got myself to let down, whereas when you’re racing with a team, it’s very much like gosh, if I don’t do well, that could mean no medal or a lesser medal or something, so that was a bit scary going in, but I loved it.

“It was nice being able to celebrate and get photos with everyone at the end with the flag, so hopefully I’ll be in the team for next time as well.”

Kinghorn’s relay silver was one of four medals she picked up in Paris – along with an individual women’s T53 400m silver, T53 100m gold and championship record and T53 800m silver – and she’s since won a gold at the Diamond League’s London meet over 800m on Sunday, as well as taking time out to promote 2023’s Farm Safety Week last week.

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The former Earlston High School pupil, made a Member of the British Empire in 2022 for services to disability sport, is now targeting returning to the French capital for her third Paralympics next year, after 2016’s in Brazil and 2021’s in Japan, and was grateful of the chance to familiarise herself with her prospective surroundings.

“Our recovery strategies are very well planned and what we do during training and traveling days is very well structured, so that’s kind of something we can practise before,” she said.

“It was quite nice to be able to go to the same country and practise it all and know what it’s going to be like, though obviously we don’t know what the weather is going to be like next year and it’s going to be in a different stadium.”

Looking ahead to 2024, she added: “It’s nice to know that I’m in good shape now but I definitely think there are still things that I can improve on, which is exciting.

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“I feel definitely like the championships have put me in a position quite of feeling quite comfortable and confident going into this winter, knowing that I can come out stronger again.

“I think I still feel pressure to do well but more than anything, it’s pressure that I put on myself because I know what I can achieve and I know that I’m still getting faster, so if I don’t do well, it’s more that I give myself a hard time rather than anyone else doing so.”

Kinghorn was delighted to pick up her fifth medal of the month at the London Stadium – scene of her first world title win in 2017 – at the weekend, clocking 1:46.57 to edge out Belgian runner-up Lea Bayekula.

“It was very tactical,” she said afterwards. “I tried to do a little turn of speed on the back straight and she wasn’t for letting me by her, so I was ‘right, I’m just going to have to leave it to the last minute and hope that my 100m power will show in the end’ and I’m so thankful that it did.

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“It’s by far my favourite stadium in the world, and having that crowd, that’s amazing. I know that we’re first on and sometimes we don’t get the crowds, but there were quite a few people’s bums on seats ready to cheer, and that was good, and I’m glad we showed them a good race and an exciting race.”