Athletics News

How they train: Sammi Kinghorn

How they train: Sammi Kinghorn

We chat to a world champion who has changed her set-up in the pursuit of excellence but has also developed a healthy sense of perspective

In spite of her impressive credentials, world champion Sammi Kinghorn – a two-time Paralympic medallist and former world record-holder – still laughs about the fact she “should get a real job”.

“I think it’s because I didn’t want to be a sportsperson growing up,” she says. “It wasn’t my all, so I think I struggle with it now being my all. I find it mad that it’s my hobby but I’m doing it as my job!”

Even the best athletes, it seems, experience imposter syndrome; it’s how they manage it that sets them apart. T53 wheelchair racer Kinghorn excelled in 2023. She won 100m gold at the Para Athletics World Championships in Paris and clocked lifetime bests in every distance from the 200m up to the half marathon. She also discovered that a work-life balance was crucial for her happiness and success.

Predisposed to single-mindedness, she had previously let track and field consume her. She recalls the 2019 World Championships in Dubai and how unhappy she felt going into that competition, compared to Paris. Kinghorn was in good shape and had high expectations – she was the reigning champion in the 100m and 200m at the time – but, to her disappointment, she came away with just one bronze medal.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself and it was just too much,” says the 28-year-old. “In the past I’ve thought that winning gold was the only thing in life that would make me happy, but then when I’ve won gold, I’ve thought: ‘Well I’m still not happy, that’s not right,’ and then I’ve realised that you need other things in life to make you happy as well. Obviously winning a gold medal should be the cherry on the top, but it shouldn’t hold you up and you shouldn’t hang all your happiness on a medal. That’s taken a lot to learn.”

Sammi Kinghorn (Getty)

That’s not to say her commitment to the sport is anything less than 100 per cent. Kinghorn relocated from the Scottish Borders to Cheshire to maximise her potential. She now trains with a group at Kirkby AC in Liverpool, including multiple Paralympic champion and world record-holder Hannah Cockroft and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nathan Maguire.

“I was starting to become the fastest [in my group] in Glasgow and I needed a kick up the arse,” she says. “I’m now training with people that are faster than me and that’s…

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