Health issues may have put Sammi Kinghorn on the sidelines this summer but Gordon’s golden girl is fit and ready to take on the world again at this week’s World Para Athletics Championships.
Returning to the stage of her greatest triumph, having won both the 100m and 200m titles at the last World Championships in London two years ago, T53 wheelchair racer Kinghorn is looking forward to putting a difficult few months behind her and focusing on a big year ahead.
It was only in June that the 23-year-old was forced into having an operation for health reasons, out of action for seven weeks and rendered bed-bound for three of those.
But, far from getting disheartened, Kinghorn has channelled her frustrations and has her sights on the 100m in Dubai – having opted to put all her efforts into just racing in that discipline.
“I couldn’t do much because I had stitches and things, I had to just not worry and chill out,” she said.
“It was frustrating but at least it’s not next year. If it was next year [ahead of the Paralympics] I would have been extremely upset so at least it’s done now and I’m healthy.
“I try not to get brought down by stuff like that because it’s uncontrollable. It’s completely out of my control what happens in anyone’s body, I’m just glad it’s fixed now.
“I only had 12 weeks after my operation between racing and the World Championships so I had a choice between doing the 100 well or doing three not so well. We decided to just focus on one with the break I’ve had.
“I feel fully recovered in myself now, it’s just about trying to get back to full fitness and full speed. I have to kind of lower the pressure on myself and realise I might not get the same results as London but that’s okay.”
It was at the London Stadium in 2017 that Kinghorn properly introduced herself on the world stage – claiming gold medals in the 100m and 200m.
She had previously become known to a wider British audience when she made her Paralympic debut in Rio, competing in all three of her disciplines up to 400m, finishing a respectable best of fifth in the 100m.
But, after surprising herself with her twin triumphs two years ago, she has much loftier ambitions for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 and realises the key preparation begins now with the days counting down.
Kinghorn added: “I’ve not worn a GB vest since London, which was two years ago now, so it’ll be really great to do so once again.
“The memories of London are really inspiring but now you’re the one with the target on your back. It motivates you to try and stay on top for as long as you can but you also know everyone is trying very hard to beat you.
“It makes you that bit more confident, knowing everyone is looking at you. Having all the experiences from Rio and London makes you that bit more chilled out, rather than overthinking and being nervous. You know you’ve done it before and can do it again.
“I’ll definitely be using the Worlds to build up to Tokyo, racing against the best in the world is the best way to see where you’re at.”
l Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/