Kinghorn Rio joy as Scots book Paralympics places

Record-breaker Clegg selected for third Games

WHEELCHAIR Racer Sammi Kinghorn has targeted making the finals in her three events, after being named in the GB Paralypics team for Rio.

Sammi is one of six Scots athletes in the 54-strong team, joining sprinters Libby Clegg and Maria Lyle, long jumper Stef Reid, thrower Jo Butterfield and marathon runner Derek Rae.

Kinghorn who is backed by legal firm Harper Macleod and is an ambassador for Strathmore Water, said: “I was delighted to have made the team after an agonising wait. She said: “We were told that the selectors meeting would finish at 4pm and that they would start calling people afterwards. By the time 10.30pm came I was getting a bit worried. Other people I know in the team had already found out and I was maybe having a little panic before the phone rang.

“I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. On one hand it was such a relief, especially as my Mum and Dad had already booked their tickets to Brazil! My mum was relieved and my dad was just ecstatic. It also feels incredible – even that I don’t have to say ‘hopefully’ any more when I’m talking about the Paralympics.”

Now though she does have high hopes of reaching the final of the 100m, 400m and 800m. She added: “The Chinese, Australians and Americans are always really good, but at least now I’m the European record holder it helps me feel more relaxed going in, that I deserve to be there. I just can’t wait to be on the world stage.”

For Commonwealth Champion Clegg, it will be her third games, though her first with guide Chris Clarke. As Libby told Sportswoman Magazine in our launch edition, she has battled back from an exceptionally tough year, missing out on a number of major competitions through illness and injury. She was reclassified as a T11 sprinter earlier this year and went on to set a world record in the T11 200m in last weekend’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final, the same venue where she won silver in 2012.

Clegg said: “I’m delighted to be selected for my third Paralympic Games. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey since London after a number of injuries but it’s great to come through the other side and be a part of a really strong ParalympicsGB team heading out to Rio. Having changed classification recently, Saturday’s performance in London was beyond our wildest expectations. However, we are now focused to getting amongst the medals and we can’t wait to get going.” Clarke added: “This is a totally new experience for me and a complete learning curve. To be able to go to a major Games is a dream come true and we are going into Rio with a lot of confidence.”

Butterfield, who will compete in the club and discus throw, won gold at last year’s IPC World Championships. Lyle, 16, from Dunbar who is one of the youngest members of the team won gold in the 100m relay at the IPC world championships. New Zealand-born Stef Reid, who qualifies for Scotland through her father, won silver in the long jump at London 2012.

Rodger Harkins, Scottish Athletics Director of Coaching, said: “This is more good news for the sport in Scotland in the wider sense and in this case for Para athletes and their coaches. It takes an enormous amount of hard work to ensure selection for the Paralympics. Well done to all those involved in putting in that hard work.

“With 15 selected for the Olympics, we are looking at 21 Scottish athletes in total heading for Rio this summer to compete at the very highest level possible. It will be great for those athletes to experience that in Brazil. Once again we have to credit the coaches involved who have guided these athletes and the clubs who helped with their development.”

Among the 21 returning Paralympians, in the 41 athletes named by the British Paralympic Association (BPA), are London 2012 gold medallist Jonnie Peacock, Beijing and London Paralympic medallist Clegg, and Stephen Miller, set to compete at his sixth consecutive Paralympic Games.

New faces include former serviceman David Henson who took up sport following his rehabilitation from injury in Afghanistan in 2011, T44 sprinter Laura Sugar, who was talent-spotted at a ParalympicsGB Sports Fest at the end of 2012 and teenager Kare Adenegan who completed GB’s podium domination in the T54 800m with a bronze medal at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha.
 Penny Briscoe MBE, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, said: “This is set to be the most competitive Paralympics ever but I know there is serious medal potential here and it pays testament to the hard work of Paula Dunn and her team at British Athletics. I’d like to wish the athletes all the very best with their final preparations for the Games.”

Read our in-depth Libby Clegg interview here http://bit.ly/2a2LHny or download the digital edition http://bit.ly/28ZRRI3

Read more from Sammi Kinghorn on her Harper Macleod blog at http://bit.ly/2a85mV9