COMMONWEALTH Games athlete Sammi Kinghorn has spoken for the first time of the family heartbreak behind the accident which left her facing a lifetime in a wheelchair.
The 18-year-old has revealed how the farmyard accident which snapped her spinal chord four years ago happened.
Kinghorn will be going for glory at the Commonwealth Games this month but says the first glimpse of her on the track at Hampden Park will be enough to cause her father to burst into tears.
“He’ll cry definitely. He’s a big hard man but I think he’ll be howling as soon as I get out there,” said Kinghorn, who will be competing in the Para-Sports 1,500m.
Her achievement in getting to Glasgow is an inspiring one but her father Neil has never been able to forgive himself for the accident which put his daughter in a wheelchair.
Kinghorn’s story has been told before but not the full version. It has, until now, been reported that she was crushed by ice and snow falling from a roof at her home in the Scottish Borders village of Gordon.
“Bits got mixed up, everyone concentrated on the snow,” she told The Scotsman.
“What happened was that on 2 December four years ago, I was helping Dad clear snow at our farm in the Borders. My friend was there and I climbed on to the forklift which dad was driving.
“He didn’t see me and lowered a beam on top of me which caused a fracture to my spinal cord. At that moment, the adrenaline hit my body and I ran forward and slipped and that’s when the snow compacted on top of me.
“Dad was devastated. Every day I say it wasn’t his fault, it was my own stupidity. But to have played a part in the accident is something he’ll never forgive himself for.”
Kinghorn has a No1 ranking in Europe and after Glasgow will be competing in the euro championships in the 100m, 200m and 400m – her preferred distances. Next, there are the world championships in Qatar followed by the Rio Olympics.
She is a vivacious, upbeat character and looks forward to making the most of her chances – but she admits that lying on a hospital bed four years ago, none of this seemed possible. “I suppose I was lucky in that when the accident happened, I was 14 and completely naive. But I knew straightaway I was never going to walk again. I remember the last feeling, every single muscle in my legs tensing, my toes curling, a release and that was it.
“I was like, what now? In the hospital, while Mum and Dad were talking to the doctors, I thought I was going to be in that bed forever.
“I didn’t think there was going to be a wheelchair. I went to the Spinal Unit Games where you can try different sports. The second-last day was athletics. I was like, what are they going to do, make us run?
“Then I saw a girl in a wheelchair training. I couldn’t believe how fast she was going and I loved the smart kit. Someone said to me, you’ve got a brilliant shape for this. To be told I could be good at something again was just amazing. I was desperate to give it a go but I needed money. So I was like, Mum and Dad, I really want to do this – I just need £4,000!”