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q&a with rising star samantha kinghorn

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Sam Kinghorn

Previously Samantha Kinghorn is a name you might not be too familiar with; however after a breakthrough 2013, Sam has found herself in the limelight a little more than she’s used to. The Red Star T53 Wheelchair racer was named Young Scottish Sportsperson of the Year recently after breaking into the world top 10 and has also been included on the 2013-2014 World Class Performance Programme.

Kinghorn, who is new to athletics following an accident in 2010, has gotten to grips with her new sport very quickly and so we took some time out to catch up with the 17 year old as she prepares to make her international debut for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games next year.

How did you become involved in wheelchair racing?

I got involved with athletics after I broke my back a few years ago. I went down to the Spinal Unit Games in Stoke Mandeville and I tried out a number of different events, having a go at everything. That’s when I decided I wanted to do it and was going to have a good go at racing – this was about a year and a half ago.

When was it that your interest in athletics started?

Before my accident it was mainly hockey and gymnastics that I liked, I didn’t really do much athletics. So it wasn’t until afterwards that it began. I’ve always loved speedy things like that though, so it was probably only a matter of time.

The Commonwealth Games will be your first major championships and you’re set to be the youngest member of Team Scotland; will that be your main goal for the season?

It’s quite scary. I’m so excited though as I’ll have the home crowd behind me so it’ll be pretty amazing. Hopefully all my family will be able to make it too, which will make it a bit easier on me with it being my first big international meet. I’d love to get a PB, and hopefully the crowd will spur me on – although you can never really tell until the day. To make the final is what I really want as I’d know then that I’d done everything I wanted to do.  But I’m hoping to make the team for the European’s as well. The European IPC Championships have my classification - T53, whereas in Glasgow I’ll be competing in the T54 category.

Who do you see as your main rivals on the track?

This season for the European’s it’s definitely Catherine Debrunner. However for the Commonwealth’s I don’t really have a rival, it’s just going to be me aiming to do as well as I can. I just want to hold on to the pack for as long as possible.

What has been your 2013 highlight?

A huge highlight is competing in Switzerland (Samantha competed in both the Swiss National Senior and Junior Championships, along with the Daniela Jutzeler Memorial last season). I got to race against the best in the world and see what I needed to still work on which will help me a great deal in the coming year.

At the moment, you’re ranked first across all track disciplines and will be competing in the T54 1500m in Glasgow, however which distances do you prefer?

I prefer sprints actually - 100-800m is what I like best. I do really enjoy road though too, so maybe in the future I’ll look to progress more into that and develop that side more. Training wise, I normally focus on endurance in the morning; I’ll either go out on the road or I’ll do a long endurance push on the rollers. Then at night I’ll have a sprint session which will either be on rollers or on the track.  I train on my own, so it’s pretty tough.

Are there any athletes who particularly inspire you, British or International?

Internationally, it’s always going to be Tatyana McFadden, even though she’s not in my classification. Everybody wants to be able to push like her, so I definitely look towards her.

Long term, is Rio 2016 a big focus for you and how will your WCPP funding help you on your journey to get there?

Yes, Rio is obviously the dream, which I suppose is slowly becoming a reality. It’s scary to think how quick the Commonwealths have come around, so I know it’s just round the corner. The funding I’m receiving this year is a huge incentive to work harder and I know I need to train a lot more. I worked hard to get awarded a place on the performance plan and so I need to make sure I stay there. I don’t want to be dropped from it, I want to keep progressing and hopefully work my way up the funding levels. It definitely makes me want to work a lot harder and get everything out of it that I am able to.