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Samantha Kinghorn: ready to make Hampden roar at Glasgow 2014

The waiting is almost over. Sammi Kinghorn has come a long way since she was one of the first athletes named in Team Scotland for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games last September.

She turned 18. She moved to the top of the European rankings. And she has become one of the most recognisable faces of the Games.

Now the 18-year-old wheelchair racer, Harper Macleod's Athlete Ambassador for the Games, is ready. And it's going to be amazing.

We caught up with Sammi ahead of the Opening Ceremony, as her dream of competing in a home Games finally turns to reality.

Sammi said: "To be honest, I've not really had much time to think about it until now, there's been so much going on. I'm in camp in Irvine before going into the Athletes Village on the Saturday before I race. I'll have a bit more time to myself and I'm sure it will all sink in.

"I thought it was great be named in the team so early so I could get everything set, but I've had all the dates in my book for so long and it seemed to take forever to come round. Now it's here and its scary.

"Of course I'm a little bit nervous, but nerves are a kind of excitement, and I really can't wait for it all to kick off because everyone around me is so excited."

A star in the making

It's no surprise that Sammi hasn't had a chance to dwell on what lies ahead. Over the past few weeks she has brought the Queen's Baton into Scotland, raced at Hampden and in Belfast, raced a rally car, launched the Team Scotland kit and made a children's TV show, among other things.

It's all testament to the effect she has on other people, and the impression she makes on anyone who meets her. All these commitments could be a distraction for someone else, but she has relished the opportunities she's been given while staying on top form.

"Getting a chance to try out the Hampden track, at a race set up as part of a Scottish Schools meet, was excellent. It was nice to get a feel for what you're going to be racing on, thought it will be a completely different atmosphere when the stadium is full. It's a bit faster that what I'm used to in training, but not as fast as some of the tracks I've competed on elsewhere.

"To be honest, the speed of the track doesn't really matter for major events. It's not about times it's about the medals and the place you come in."

Putting on the Games face

When it comes to medals, Sammi is setting no targets, other than to do the best she can. Every aspect of the Games experience is going to be new to her, and she's determined to do all she can to enjoy it – and make everyone proud.

She said: "I feel great, I'm definitely ready for it. I just have to try and stay fit for another week! I'll do some light training and light gym work, maybe a little bit of speed work and practice my starts.

"I know where I'm staying in the village but I don't know exactly who I'll be sharing with yet, I think the house I'll be in will have eight people I'll find out when I get there. It's exciting to meet some new people and live with them for a while.

"I've never experienced a major event like this before so I've no idea what I'm going to do. I'll be trying not to get too nervous or worked about it. I'll try to stay calm but I've no idea how I'll be feeling when I get to that stage."

The race

All that preparation, all that training, will come down to a few minutes of action in front of a packed arena. It's something only someone who's been there and done it can truly appreciate.

But with so many people willing her to do well, from family and friends to everyone in the stadium, she's looking forward to that moment – 11.25am on Tuesday, 29 July. If she makes it through the heat, the final takes place on Thursday evening.

Sammi said: "In the call room before I race I'll try not to look at everyone else or match myself up against them. I'll keep telling myself that I've done everything I can do and that I'm as ready as they are. It's all about keeping a positive mindframe.

"I want to do everyone proud and I think there's a chance the nerves will affect me when I'm in the call room. But as soon as I get out there and the crowd cheers when my name is called, that will be when I'll be able to relax and enjoy it because I know that they are there to support me whether I win or lose."

At Harper Macleod, we can't wait to cheer her on.

Euro star: from Glasgow to Cardiff

Just days before the Opening Ceremony at Glasgow 2014, Sammi discovered she'd been named in the GB & NI squad for the European Championships, which take place in Cardiff from August 18-23. There she'll compete in the 100m and 400m. Unlike at Glasgow 2014, she'll be in her own class, T53, and racing over her favoured distances. Her international career is taking off.

"I was delighted to make the team, and I'm glad I've got something to look forward to after the Commonwealth Games. It's not just done and that's it. I can get straight back into it."

Sammi and the Neurons

She may be about to star in the biggest event to take place in Scotland, but that could be outshone by another appearance during Games time. On Sunday, 27 July, Sammi will star in an episode of Nina and the Neurons: Get Sporty – and if you don't know who Nina and the Neurons are, ask the nearest five-year-old.

Press record

T54 1500m heat – 11.25am, Tuesday, 29 July on the BBC
Nina and the Neurons, 4.15pm Sunday, July 27 on CBeebies