Roll on Tokyo 2020, Sammi Kinghorn proclaimed last night, after affirming herself as the rising star of wheelchair racing as the World Para-athletics Championships came to a close in London.
A world record in claiming victory in the 200 metres T53 final had already marked the public’s card. A bronze in the 400m merely illustrated the 21-year-old’s range. And although her Sunday evening concluded with fifth place in the 800m, the afternoon had already brought the Borderer a golden double as she bolted clear of her foes in the 100 metres, winning in 16.65 seconds.
Empty-handed in Rio last summer, her acceleration – like her second triumph – has been quick and potent. “I got out well, my start was really good and I knew that was what I had to work on from Rio and I’m really glad that it worked out,” she said.
“My class isn’t an easy one to win, but I’ve spent the last year getting a bit stronger and just learning so much. I also got a new chair in February and it’s just a bit lower and a bit more aerodynamic. It’s been a big learning curve. I knew that I wanted it after Rio. I wanted it more than anything. I wanted to be the best in the world so I’ve just trained and trained every session.”
It brought Great Britain & Northern Ireland the last of their 39 medals here, a tally which left the hosts third behind China and the USA in the overall table. Nine more than the target set at the outset of a championships which have exceeded expectations off the track with an unprecedented volume of crowds and attention.
With fresh names emerging, it bodes well for the next Paralympic Games, and beyond. British Athletics head coach Paula Dunn declared. “Some of the youngsters have made the podiums who maybe weren’t expected to make that big leap but have done it. That’s really pleasing.
“Look at Sammi. We saw it coming. But two golds and a bronze have given her a really good platform to build on. We have some of the guys from 2012 who are still producing like Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft, Stef Reid and Rich Whitehead. But it’s demonstrating our pathway is working and that we have youngsters coming through to make podiums.”
Meanwhile, Jemma Reekie’s status as a potential star in the making was reinforced as the Scot took a superb 1500 metres gold at the European Junior Championships in Grosseto.
The 19-year-old, who trains alongside Laura Muir, had to rebound from fading to fourth place in Saturday’s 3000m final when silver looked a certainty. And she brilliantly bolted clear on the last lap to win in 4:13.25, with British team-mate Harriet Knowles-Jones landing bronze.
“It was all motivation from the 3000m,” Reekie confirmed. “Not doing what I wanted. I wanted to put it all out here and leave everything on the track. So it was a really good experience. I had a lot of motivation. My coach Andy Young really prepared me and watching Laura’s run on Friday in Monaco motivated me to do well. I feel I’d put in the training to do well.”
Perth prospect Ben Greenwood just missed out on a medal in the 800m final, finishing fourth as Markim Lonsdale secured silver. But Alisha Rees was part of the 4x100 relay squad that bagged bronze while Highland hopeful George Evans, the British team captain, took third place in the discus with a final round effort of 59.05 metres. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I threw the second-best throw of my season, so I can consider myself satisfied.”