Samantha ‘Sammi’ Kinghorn is Scotland’s leading wheelchair racer and Harper Macleod’s Athlete Ambassador. With the Rio 2016 Paralympics looming large on the horizon – an event which would be the biggest in Sammi’s career to date – her focus is on doing all she can to qualify for Team GB.
Sammi receives the Rotary Young Citizen Wheelchair Sports Award on the BBC
However, in between the hard work she is an athlete in demand. In the last month alone she has:
- Visited Brazil as part of a Team GB delegation checking out the facilties which await them in September
- Won the first ever Rotary Club Young Citizen Wheelchair Sports Award, broadcast on the BBC
- Made a warm weather training trip to Tenerife
- Oh, and she also met the Queen!
In this Q&A, Sammi talks about some of her recent experiences, and how she keeps on track to achieve her goals.
1. Is it hard to keep to your training schedule when you're travelling and making appearances and how do you make it work?
It is hard to keep to the training schedule because other commitments break up the routine I have when it comes to things including the times I train, the times I eat and the times I can rest … but if it worked like clockwork it would be too easy! I really enjoy talking to pupils in schools and hope to continue to do that throughout my career. Travelling is okay because I know I’m going somewhere warmer!!
2. You've been all around the world competing, what's been your favourite country or place and why?
I have a few favourite countries. This is my second year going to Tenerife and (although not competing) this is one of the favourites. I enjoy it not only for the weather but the other athletes that come out here. I get along well with them and they never fail to help me out. It’s also good because I am the only wheelchair athlete who comes out, so whilst we usually all train at the same time I can focus and do my own programme. The atmosphere of more than 100 other athletes training hard (on and around the track) to achieve makes you drive that little bit harder. There’s also this ice cream shop with over 150 flavours which is my favourite!
Sammi training hard in Tenerife
Brazil is up there just now because that’s where it’s all happening. We had a great trip over there with Team GB and they were really welcoming while the facilities in Belo Horizonte were excellent. It’s exciting to think I could be going back soon to compete for Great Britain - it’s a very vibrant country with lovely people.
When it comes to racing my favourite country has to be Switzerland because of the competition that comes out there every summer. Every day at the track the place is full of athletes ready to race, and the competition standard is always so much higher because everyone is trying to get qualifying standards for major events such as the Worlds Championships and the Paralympics, so that often national and even world records are broken there.
3. Do you ever try your hand at any other wheelchair sports? If you weren't a racer, would you have fancied pursuing any of these?
Since day one I don’t think I’ve ever considered anything else. I like working hard and I like achieving after knowing I’ve put in the hours to get there. I’d still try other sports for fun but probably not on a competitive level.
4. What was it like to meet the Queen at the Commonwealth Day celebrations?
Of course it was an honour to meet HM the Queen. I really enjoyed the whole day. It was very exciting flying down for a day, going to the beautiful service in the Abbey and hearing Ellie Goulding sing. It was very official and you don’t speak unless spoken to - which is hard for me because I’m always curious and I like it when kids at school ask me questions when they are curious about something. Meeting the Queen wasn’t something I ever thought I would have been doing before my accident. So many doors have opened and I will take every opportunity that comes my way so hopefully I might get to meet HM the Queen again one day.
5. You also won the Rotary Award, what was that experience like?
It’s always nice to win an award because it means I’m being recognised for what I do. Even though I don’t do my sport to be recognised it’s always a real boost when people see what am doing and they feel it deserves an award. The whole experience was good and we (Connor and I) spent the weekend with some lovely people. It’s really nice sometimes to go away for the weekend to something that isn’t a sport orientated event. All the other winners that were there were amazing people and their work (charity and good will) was inspiring. It was an honour to meet them.
You can find out more about Harper Macleod and Sammi here.
You can see the short film we made with Sammi as she trained around her Borders home here.