World champion wheelchair racer Samantha Kinghorn, of Gordon, is enhancing her preparations for the Commonwealth Games by being part of the Christopher Ward Challenger Programme, which aims to support athletes achieve their ambitions (for more details, log on to www.christopherward.co.uk/challengerprogramme).
In a recent interview with the group, she outlined her hopes.
Q: You’re heading the Commonwealth games this year – what’s been your journey leading up to this?
A: As I’m normally a sprinter, to prepare for the longer distances in Australia, I had to do the Chicago marathon in October to set a qualifying mark. After the World Championships, I also had some minor niggles, so marathon training wasn’t exactly as planned. Everything has gone really well and I was happy with my time and placing – it ranks me fourth in the Commonwealth. My other event is the 1500m, which I raced for a couple of times in May, which I’m currently ranked fifth for in the Commonwealth.
Q: How intensive has your training schedule been?
A: For most of the year, I’m a full-time athlete like any other – I train twice a day, six days a week, mixing up gym work, track and rollers, and pushing on the road near Glasgow, where I live. For this particular event, I’ve been focusing more on endurance and speed endurance, which has been a great learning curve and a real challenge.
Q: What’s your goal in Australia?
A: I hope to make the 1500m final and just see what happens. As long as I do my best, that’s all I can ask for.
Q: After the Commonwealth, what’s next for you?
A: I’d just like to achieve as many medals and world records as I can. Afterwards, I want to be happy and be able to take any new opportunities as they arise. I really look up to people like Tatyana McFadden, with whom I’ve raced and trained. She’s one of the best there has ever been, and is a genuine person who supports and helps others.
Q: What do you feel generally the attitude towards disability in sports is?
A: It’s getting better and becoming more widely accepted as sport. I still struggle, though, when I am called “inspirational”. It is sport at the end of the day and I am chasing the same goals and dreams as those on the Olympic side!
Q: How did you get started in wheelchair racing and what advice would you give others?
A: I tried lots of sports at the Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, while in the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. I discovered wheelchair racing and that was me hooked. The biggest obstacle I found was raising the money for a racing chair. I’d recommend for everyone to give all sports a try and find one that you love.