Fresh focus for Sammi with Paralympics off

Wheelchair race ace Samantha Kinghorn says she accepts the decision to axe the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo for a year, as coronavirus is “bigger than any of us”.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 3rd April 2020, 11:05 am
Samantha Kinghorn (archive image by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Samantha Kinghorn (archive image by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

However, she admitted it was slightly “gutting”, because she was in excellent form in the approach to the showpiece of world athletics.

Sammi, from Gordon, had been hoping for further major success in Japan.

She memorably scored a T53 double world championship win in 2017 and has multiple European wheelchair race records to her name.

In her last major event, she took bronze in the women’s T53 100m at November’s World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai.

However, last week, the Olympic/Paralympic organisers opted to postpone the games. Japan president Shinzo Abe, supported by the International Olympic Committee, said they would be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”.

This week, it was declared the Olympics would run from July 23-August 8, 2021, followed by the Paralympics from August 24-September 5.

Sammi (24) understood the decision, although she said: “It’s a bit gutting because I was pushing really well and, at the start of the year, I was really looking forward to the start of racing.”

People often did not realise that athletes’ bodies in effect worked to a four-year-cycle, in the build-ups to such major events as the Olympics, said Sammi. The call-off meant there were various implications now about peaking early, condition-wise, and the possible reshuffling of events later in the year, depending on the virus precautions.

Athletes might also have their end-of- seasons spell now, she added. But, whatever happened, the deferral offered another year to get ready and stay motivated.

“More time is always good,” she said. “You can never be too prepared.” Sammi herself had recently been self-isolating in Glasgow for around 10 days and hoped afterwards to get home to the Borders. While she loved training, she hoped to find more relaxing and fun ways of exercising.

All of Sammi’s competitions had been cancelled but there may yet be races towards the end of the year, she said, or track meets which might not normally be staged.