25th May 2020


On this day in 2017, Sammi Kinghorn (coach: Ian Mirfin; club: Red Star) took to the track in Arbon, Switzerland, where she would tear up the women’s T53 100m and 400m European records.

Following a successful set of races in America a week earlier – where she had set a world record over the 200m, and European records over the100m and 400m – she arrived at the prestigious Swiss event with her eyes set on achieving further rapid times.

With the World Para Athletics Championships due to take place on home soil in under two months, Kinghorn was in the form of her life. The Arbon track is renowned as one of the fastest on the circuit for wheelchair racers, so it was the ideal location to continue her preparations for London 2017.

In the 400m, she had set a time of 55.08 in Indianapolis six days beforehand, but what followed was quite extraordinary.

With America’s Chelsea McClammer – a three-time Paralympic medallist – lining up alongside her, this was all set to be an exhilarating contest. By the time they had reached the home straight, both athletes were set for significant personal bests, and those watching waited with bated breath for the final results.

The American set a world record with a time of 53.32, while Kinghorn’s 53.72 was a European record. In fact, it was inside the previous world record, so the Scottish athlete moved up to second on the all-time list.

She returned later in the day for the T53 100m. Having lowered her best to 16.32s six days earlier, the Red Star athlete pushed hard off the line, maintaining her smooth technique to set a time of 16.21 (1.1 m/s), which was just 0.02s off the world record set by Lisha Huang (CHN), who won the Paralympic title in Rio.

It was clear that Sammi was emerging as a real contender for the gold medals at the London Stadium, so expectations rose as the Championships got closer in July of that year.

Kinghorn would go on to win two world titles in London over the 100m and 200m, setting a world record in the latter, as well as sealing the bronze medal in the 400m.

It capped a remarkable rise for Sammi Kinghorn in 2017, and her journey will continue as she eyes the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021.