Tragedy has been a vicious interloper in the universe of Samantha Kinghorn. Unwanted and unkind in its intrusions upon the 22-year-old’s sense of normality, her paralysis below the waist came when compacted snow and the beam of a forklift combined to rob her of her ability to walk when she was barely a teen.
The wheelchair racer – who competes in the Commonwealth Games marathon tonight – has shaken off such adversity with admirable courage and abundant humour but it has not insulated her from further blows. Just before departing for Australia, with all focus on performing well Down Under, her spirits were pushed to a low ebb when her best friend from childhood passed away.
“I had to go to the funeral before leaving here,” she reveals. “I thought I might have to miss the flight. Our Mums were friends. But she stayed with us a lot when her Mum was away. We’d share a bed growing up. She was my best friend.”
To add to the lament, her maternal grandmother was recently diagnosed with bone cancer, forcing the Borderer to pop out of the bubble created in advance of her appearances here and seek updates from back at base. In the marathon, where she will hope for a podium spot in only her second appearance at this distance, she will carry a trinket with a picture of her friend, Ashley. “I’m doing this marathon for her,” she confirmed.
“I’m pretty strong over the distance,” added Kinghorn, pictured. “But obviously Madison de Rozario will be the favourite. I would love to challenge her and be able to go with her. It’s a very technical course with a lot of tight bends. That’s quite difficult in the chair because it only has three wheels. Take a bend too tight and you are flipping the chair. You have to be pretty careful.”
Fellow Scot Callum Hawkins’ chief concerns will be the heat and the troop of Kenyan challengers in the men’s marathon as he chases a maiden international medal. The 25-year-old, fourth at last year’s world championships, has devoted his entire winter and spurned more lucrative appearances to pursue a Games title.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough race but I’ve prepared well and will give it my best shot,” Hawkins said.