Winning world titles and breaking world records is usually a sign of an elite athlete performing at the peak of their powers, but a humble Sammi Kinghorn is adamant she still has improvements to make.
The Borders wheelchair racer took London by storm in July with a spectacular performance at the World Championships. Competing in the T53 wheelchair category, she broke her own world record to win gold in the 200 metres before going on to take a second gold in the 100m and bronze in the 400m.
The Gordon athlete, who now lives in Glasgow, capped a glorious year by winning the Disability Sport Award and Scottish Sports Personality Award at the 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards on December 7.
At the tender age of 21, Sammi gives up plenty of experience to her rivals but she insists she will strive to stay ahead of the competition and not let her success go to her head.
She said: “I’ve still got a lot of years left. It’s a bit scary though because I sometimes think ‘what if I don’t get any faster?’
“But I’ve still got a lot more to give, I’m still very young.
"It gives me a lot of confidence that I can compete with the very best for a long time if I put the work in.
“I’m young and still pretty naïve in the sport, a lot of the girls I’m going up against have been in the sport for 12 or 13 years. They know a lot more about the sport than me. I still sometimes think ‘oh I’m racing against the big girls now’, even though I’m up there with them.”
Sammi’s back was broken in an accident on the family farm at the age of 14, leaving her paralysed from the waist down.
Her indomitable spirit shone through during a six-month stay in hospital and subsequently taking up wheelchair racing with a single-minded determination that saw her qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympics, a little over five years after first trying the sport.
Looking back now on her stunning rise in wheelchair racing, Sammi admits she is still coming to terms with what she achieved in 2017.
She said: “I still can’t quite find the words to explain what it was like. It was a really crazy year.
“I knew I was pushing well and going fast, I was hopeful for the 200m after getting the world record in Arizona in May. The other events I wasn’t really too sure about.
“I didn’t expect it to go quite as well as it did. There’s a lot of pressure and nerves as well, you never really know how well your opponents have been going until the event."
Following her double award win at the Scottish Sports Awards, Sammi couldn’t hide her delight at fending off competition from fellow nominees such as Jamie Murray, Stuart Hogg, Callum Hawkins and Katie Archibald.
She added: “It’s really nice. When you do your sport you do it to do well on the big stage and win medals, you don’t expect to win awards after it.
“It is nice to get that recognition, particularly for para sports.
“It is important that para sports are seen alongside able-bodied athletes and sports. It makes our sport more respected by the public.”
Find out more
If you have a disability and would like to know more about taking up sport contact Scottish Disability Sport.
For more information on athletics visit Scottish Athletics.