Sammi Kinghorn gets Europeans off to a flier

DAY or night – it doesn’t matter for Sammi Kinghorn as her bid for global domination began with an impressive double gold as the IPC Athletics European Championships began in Swansea yesterday.

Sammi Kinghorn wins the T53 400m event during day one of the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea. Picture: Getty

The 18-year-old Scot first won T53 400m gold in the morning session – in a time of 1:04.84 minutes – before clocking 18.74 seconds over 100m in soaring to a second gold in the evening.

In the absence of six-time Paralympic champion David Weir, who pulled out injured on the eve of the Europeans, Kinghorn contributed half of the gold medals won by Britain on the opening day.

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Paralympic and world champions Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft both claimed victory in their respective 100m races – but Kinghorn admitted her double was easier said than done.

“I was a little bit worried because I had two races in one day and I thought if I don’t do well in one race it might put me off for the rest of the day,” said Kinghorn, who raced over 1,500m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“But doing well in the morning helped me a little bit just to calm the nerves. I had to hide my medal and not look at it, treat it as another race. It’s not 400m – just go out and do it.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do. My coach always says to me to push as fast as you can for as long as you can, and that’s all you can do. I did my best and am really happy I’ve come away with two gold medals.”

Meanwhile, Commonwealth champion Libby Clegg battled an untimely illness to make it to Swansea – and she is just relieved to still be in with a shout of a medal.

Clegg flew to 100m gold at the Commonwealth Games but only just snuck into today’s final, qualifying as a fastest loser in 12.49 seconds.

And after feeling under the weather in the build-up to the Europeans, Clegg believes her time – over three-tenths shy of her personal best – was the most she could have hoped for.

“I’ve not been feeling well the past couple of days but it’s just one of those things. I gave it my best performance and that’s all I can ask for,” she said.

“I just want to go out there and put as good a time down as possible. After not feeling well I didn’t know what to expect anyway. We’ll give it our best for the final.”

Clegg isn’t short of support in Swansea with Sainsbury’s a proud sponsor of the British Paralympic Association and its athletes all the way to Rio 2016.

Clegg’s guide runner Mikail Huggins – who replaced Weir as the captain of the British team in Swansea after he withdrew through injury – is confident she will respond in style.

“We knew the circumstances with regards to Libby’s health and she came out, went through the warm-up phase and tried to put down the best performance,” he added.

“For that you’ve got to take your hat off to her. I see that as a true champion. She delivered and though it’s not the result we wanted, it’s about how we come back from this now.”

As for Peacock, he added the final medal to his set of major championship successes at the Europeans after gold at the London 2012 Paralympics and the World Championships a year later.

Next on the calendar is a meet at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix this weekend and Peacock believes he has a shot at a lifetime best away from windy Wales.

“It’s a nice relief. I did feel a lot of pressure coming here,” said Peacock, whose legal personal best stands at 10.84.

“Obviously I was strong favourite and with everyone telling you that, it does put a lot of pressure on your back.

“There are still a few races to go this season and hopefully I can finish and get some good times – I’ve got the medals, now I want to get that time.”

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