Paralympian Sammi Kinghorn claims expectations have changed

Glasgow Paralympian Sammi Kinghorn has described the thought of competing at Tokyo 2020 as ‘daunting’, one year after smashing her own world record at the World Championships.

Already a Paralympic Games veteran at just 22-years-old, the Glasgow athlete says expectations of her have changed since breaking the T53 200m world record in London last year.

And despite not competing in 100m and 200m events on the international circuit this year after her T53 categorisation wasn’t selected at the Commonwealth Games, the two-time world champion insists she is well on track to qualify for Tokyo in two years’ time.

“It’s a little bit more daunting because I am now up there with the girls,” explained Kinghorn who is supporting #teamparkrun; a campaign that will see National Lottery-funded Olympic and Paralympic heroes inspire local communities across the UK to get active.

“In Rio my aim was just to try and make finals, whereas Tokyo there’s going to be a bit more fighting for the medal.

“It’s more daunting, but that’s why I do my sport. I am so pleased that I am up there in the short time that I have been doing the sport. It’s a little bit scary.

“It’s been an odd season. My events weren’t in the Commonwealth Games and I stepped up to marathon and 1500m.

“I will be purely focusing on sprints at least up until Tokyo and the next Paralympics after that.

“Maybe when I get a bit older I would do the marathon again, but it tends to be older athletes that do marathons.

“It’s maybe something for the future. I enjoy the 100m much more than the 26.2 miles, so I think I’ll stick to the 100m.”

With fellow sprinters Kare Adenegan and Hannah Cockroft currently battling out for supremacy in the T34 100m and 800m, the sport of wheelchair racing is back under the spotlight.

A roommate of five-time Paralympic champion Cockroft at major championships, Kinghorn believes the good-natured rivalry between the pair is nothing but necessary healthy competition.

“I am really good friends with them both and I normally share rooms with Hannah,” said the three-time European champion.

“It’s nice for her to be pushed and have somebody there that’s faster than her in the 100m and pushing her in the 800m. It’s given her something to really aim for.

“Hannah is a big name and a big advocate for para sport. People know her, and she has done such great things for the sport already.

“Kare has got some big shoes to fill which is probably quite nerve racking. I know that Hannah is happy for Kare to be there which is good to have someone pushing her on.

“It’s a big step from London where Hannah was winning by metres and now it’s the other way around.”

In a stark contrast to Olympic events, Kinghorn detailed the vast differences in Paralympic sport where anyone can go from zero to hero in an instant.

She said: “People can have accidents, they can have strokes and they can just come on the scene – it’s not like able bodied sport where you are constantly watching the younger ones coming through, someone can just come out the waterworks and be there.

“You have got to be ready to be beaten in para sport because you don’t know what other nations are going to bring in and bring out.

“The sport in Hannah’s class has built up, there’s not as many in the world competing at that level. It’s good that it’s becoming more well-known and more competitive.”

To thank the public for their support through playing The National Lottery, Britain’s top athletes will volunteer as tail walkers at parkrun events across the UK from 18 August to 9 September. Everyone is welcome at #teamparkrun – be part of it!