HM Insights

The Sammi Kinghorn blog – It's ready, steady ... cook?

At Harper Macleod we're lucky to have Paralympian Samantha ‘Sammi’ Kinghorn as our Athlete Ambassador. We've been part of Team Kinghorn since 2013, when Sammi was a 17-year-old novice. Now 21, she is Britain's fastest ever female wheelchair racer and a veteran of major championships. 

We caught up with Sammi in between international trips, following her amazing World Record setting performance racing in the USA, to find out how she's balancing a hectic schedule with the small matter of moving into her own place for the first time … not that she's been able to see much of it!

Sammi Samantha Kinghorn Wheelchair Racer Harper Macleod

Moving out is a big deal for anyone. While the family home will always be a haven, you can't wait to have your own space, suit yourself and enjoy that bit more freedom. Most people, however, would also like to be able to spend some actual time in it!

Sammi Kinghorn flew her family's Borders nest early this year, but in truth she's not really had a chance to savour her independence to the full just yet.

Her move coincided with a spot of globetrotting as she trained and raced to prepare for her hoped for selection for this World Championships in London in July. A winter training camp in Tenerife is being quickly followed by competitions in America and Europe – all of which doesn't leave much time for relaxing in her new pad.

She said: "Between coming home from the US and going to Switzerland, I literally have about 36 hours in Scotland. It's a quick changeover! I moved into flat about a week before I went to Tenerife for training but the longest stint I've been home since then is two weeks.

"It's nice have your independence though it's still a bit strange. It's the incidental things I've been noticing. For example, I passed my driving test when I was 16 so I could drive myself around and this is the first time since then that I haven't had to fill my car at least once a week. I went two and a half weeks on one tank which was great! On the other hand, I didn't realise how much council tax was until the other day. And water maintenance! I'm going to build a wee well outside and collect rainwater!"

American dream

As well as smashing the T53 200m World Record in Arizona (then recording the second-fastest time ever the following week), Sammi also improved on some of her own European records in high-quality race meets in the US..

You can read a full report of Sammi's racing results in America here

Bright lights, big city

As well as spreading her wings, one of the major benefits of moving has been the difference it will make to her training experience. Her coach Ian Mirfin is now close at hand, along with a host of other wheelchair athletes.

Sammi explained: "That's one of the great things about being up in Glasgow. At least two nights a week I'm training with other wheelchair racers where for so long I've been mostly training on my own in the Borders. It's completely different – even just having Ian there for most of my sessions. Beforehand I was genuinely on my own so it's nice to have someone just standing at the side watching and shouting.

"When I was training on my own I always felt like I was giving it my all but when you have someone watching you, you feel that little bit more pressure and try that little bit harder. I think that's the same with anything. I always thought I'd pushed myself but I have definitely gone even harder over this winter, just with people being there and watching me. I enjoy being with other people too."

Cooking up a storm

Beyond the benefits to her racing ambitions, the new home has other benefits including letting Sammi expand her cooking repertoire, with coach Ian and his wife Janice acting as guinea pigs!

Sammi said: "It's nice to have my own space after training to chill out and go for a nap. I'm enjoying cooking and stuff as well. I've got a nutrionist but she's not ridiculously strict. Just now I'm trying to lean up so it's no carbs at night and all that kind of stuff. The first few days of it I was in bed at night and thinking I'm going to have to get up and eat something! But I'm getting used to it.

She added: "I cooked a roast dinner and I had Ian and Janice over for one night and made them a three-course meal. I made soup to start, just lentil with chilli and stuff through it. I made a vegetable, smoked paprika paella and then a lemon cheesecake for dessert. It was very stressful! I had my nephew's 4th birthday that day and didn't get home until 5.30pm and they were coming at 7pm. I was serving it out and I hadn't even tasted it. They survived though!"

London 2017 awaits

If all her hard work pays off and the racing goes to plan - which given the early indicators of a World Record over 200m in Arizona and improving three of her own European records in Indianopolis seems to be the case - Sammi should hopefully be selected for the Team GB squad to compete at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, which start on 14 July.

The team will be announced on 5 June and the Team GB training camp would start on 3 July. Fit, well and in great form in training, Sammi has high hopes of a successful season. Sammi won World Championship bronze in the T53 200m in Doha 2015, and she wants to taste more of that medal winning feeling.

She said: "I'm a little nervous because you don't know how you'll do until you race at the big events. When it comes to competition you're fresh and you've also got the adrenaline and competitiveness with everyone else around you that pushes you a little bit more.

"It would be great to make the team again, for my second World Championships. And I could get a whole month in my flat beforehand too!"

Help Sammi's marathon adventure – support her crowdfunding campaign

After the World's, Sammi is aiming to do her first ever marathon in Chicago in October, in a bid to achieve the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games marathon in 2018.

To make this possible, her team is trying to crowdfund the £1500 needed to train at the US Paralympic Wheelchair Racing Centre and compete in the Chicago Marathon.

As part of this bid, her coach Ian Mirfin is back running for the first time in 27 years with his sights set on completing a 10k race in June (his own personal marathon).

Visit the crowdfunding page here to find out more and lend support.

Find out more

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.

You can also follow Sammi on Twitter and Facebook