From farm life to the fast lane, Sammi Kinghorn rode the path less travelled to the Paralympic podium.
The wheelchair racer grew up on a farm near Gordon, in the Scottish Borders, was taught to deliver lambs at the age of five and loved animals so much she wanted to be a zoologist.
In 2010, Kinghorn and her father were clearing snow at the farm when she climbed onto a forklift and he lowered the beam onto his daughter, shattering her spinal cord.
More than a decade later, the 25-year-old was pining for her family’s presence to watch her speed to a first Paralympic medal with bronze in the 100m T53.
“The night I had my accident, I felt all my dreams had been shattered,” said the 25-year-old.
“My family took me to every sporting event and gave me every opportunity possible and I wouldn’t be doing this without them.
“I’m just a little girl from the Borders. I really never, ever thought I would be a Paralympic athlete, let alone a medallist. It’s a mad thing.
“I was told I had a strong upper body and I would move into this sport really well, it was meant to be and this is my passion.
“I find it incredible that after all the trauma my body has been through, it’s getting stronger, faster and more powerful.”
Kinghorn returned to the family farm, near Gordon, during lockdown and her dad gifted her a lamb named Ruby. Wherever she ends up, she wants to keep sheep and cows in the future.
The Scot’s most immediate ambition was to upgrade a fifth-place finish in Rio to a podium place in Tokyo, reflecting her prodigious progress in the sport.
She holds the 200m world record and announced herself with double gold at the 2017 World Championships in London over 100m and 200m.
Kinghorn got a slow start in the short sprint but picked up speed to clock 16.53 and bag bronze by a margin of 0.37 seconds.
“To be able to call myself a bronze medallist knowing there were moments in the race I definitely could have done more and done better is huge for me,” she said.
“I know there are only three years to Paris and I know that I can get stronger.
“Coming fifth in Rio, coming third now, hopefully that trajectory continues to go up and up and up.
“I just didn’t want to come fourth again. I’m up on the podium this time and I can’t believe that I am, which is amazing.”
Kinghorn trains with Hannah Cockroft, the greatest female wheelchair racer of all time, who won her own 100m dash in world record time in Tokyo.
She avows that one day she can emulate the domination of Cockroft, who has broken eight world records in a year and sits on six Paralympic golds.
And Kinghorn speaks with such bristling purpose that it’s hard to disbelieve her.
“Hannah is that few years older than me, she has that experience,” she said.
“Hopefully she’ll help me get there a little bit faster because she has that experience that she will relay on me and tell me exactly what it feels like.
“Coming back with gold medals, that’s what I want, that’s what I’m doing it for.”
Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/ and https://paralympics.org.uk/
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies