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Samantha Kinghorn - Wheelchair athlete

Wheelchair athlete - Samantha Kinghorn

Samantha May Kinghorn MBE (born in 1996) is a Scottish World Champion wheelchair racer.

Samantha is a part of the Glasgow disability sports club Red Star. She is classed as a T53 para-athlete and is the fastest ever British female wheelchair racer.

Her greatest sporting achievement so far is winning three gold medals at the European Championships in 2014. This was her debut tournament. She then won a bronze mental in the 200-metres at the World Championships the following year.

In 2017, she went much further and became a World Champion. She won 100m and 200m gold in London’s World Championships, along with a bronze for the 400m. This resulted in a host of personal awards including, amongst many, Scottish Sunday Mail Sports Personality of the Year. She then decided to focus on the longer distances for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. This resulted in two hugely impressive fourth-placed finishes in the 1,500m and marathon races.

She then decided to re-focus on the shorter races again ahead of the 2019 World Championships. Despite surgery getting in the way of her training, she still went home to Scotland with a bronze medal.

In 2020, she won her first Paralympic medals in the Tokyo Games, achieving silver and bronze.

She has had to use a wheelchair ever since being paralysed aged 14 years old. Until then, she’d been a regular teenager playing on her family’s farm in Scotland. On 4th December, she went outside to clear a path in the snow. Little did she know, that day her life would change forever. She was crushed by snow and ice which had fallen from a roof. She suffered spinal injuries and spent five months in hospital.

Samantha had never really played sports before her injury. Whilst in hospital, she was encouraged to participate in the hospital’s Inter-Spinal Unit Games with the aim of speeding along her rehabilitation. She tried every sport on offer, but once she had her first wheelchair race, everything just clicked. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s husband was watching the race and told her she had a natural talent and should consider taking up the sport.

A decade after her accident, she became the fastest-ever female British wheelchair racer over 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m.

Her career has not been without its difficulties, however. Firstly, it’s an expensive sport. For the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, two American competitors had custom chairs made for them by BMW at a cost of £20,000. For her first race, her family had to raise money to purchase a specialised wheelchair.

Three weeks after her chair arrived, she participated in her first race in London. Then in 2013, to her surprise, she qualified for the Commonwealth Games. Since then, she has never looked back.

Nowadays, when not racing or training, she enjoys motivational speaking, as well as helping her father on the farm.

In 2022, Samantha was appointed an MBE for services to disability sport.