Samantha Kinghorn raced her way on to the podium and promised more to come in her T53 sprint class, certainly if her training partner, Hannah Cockroft, has anything to do with it.
The 25-year-old from the Scottish borders fell just short of a medal in her Paralympic debut five years ago, but will return home with a bronze this time after a strong showing in the 100m, finishing in 16.53sec – a quarter of a second behind the winner, China’s Gao Fang.
“To be able to call myself a bronze medallist knowing there were moments in the race I definitely could have done more and done better is huge for me, because there are only three years to Paris and I know that I can get stronger,” Kinghorn said.
“Coming fifth in Rio, coming third now, hopefully that trajectory continues to go up and up and up. I’m up on the podium this time and I can’t believe that I am.”
Kinghorn experienced nausea before the race, but says she is becoming better able to deal with the pressures of competition. She also said that Cockroft, the multiple world record-holder, is unlikely to let her ease off the gas now.
“I was only a little bit sick so that’s really good,” she said. “I was sick four times before the 800, so only once this time – maybe tomorrow it will be none. That’s what I’m going for. It was something I used to get so stressed out about, then I learned to just control the controllables. If my porridge wants to come up again, it’s going to come up.
“I guarantee that when I get back to the room [Cockroft] will say, ‘You could have gone faster’ and mention that she’s just beaten me. I’m sure she’ll remind me that her time was faster.
“She’s that few years older than me and hopefully she’ll help me get there a little bit faster because she has that experience she will relay to me. Coming back with gold medals, that’s what I want, that’s what I’m doing it for.”
After his 10th-place finish in Tuesday’s men’s T54 1500m final, in what is widely expected to be his last race on the track, David Weir had hit out at a lack of cutting edge equipment for British wheelchair racers. Kinghorn accepted that technology is becoming an ever more important factor in her sport.
“One of the hardest things in wheelchair sport, especially wheelchair racing, is having the backing because it’s a really expensive sport,” she said. “That’s the trouble, it’s the money in the sport. Just making sure you’re following the curve, because you don’t want to get left behind on it.
“It’s when you get up to your [later] years, that’s when [you] need the best equipment … when you’re fighting for these tiny bits. Right now, I’m very happy with my technology. Hopefully I’ll go a little faster tomorrow.”
Kinghorn won Britain’s only medal of the day in track and field, as they slipped to third in the medals table behind China and the RPC.
There was a third consecutive title for the German Markus Rehm in the T64 men’s long jump, although the “blade jumper” fell well short of his record-breaking best, drawing a red flag on two of his six jumps and recording a best distance of 8.18m, three centimetres short of his Paralympic record.
Rehm had applied to take part in the Olympics, only to be rejected by the IOC on the grounds that his prosthetic leg would give him an unfair advantage, a decision that was upheld by the court of arbitration for sport.
Rehm said: “It is OK to make the decision I can’t compete, but to make a decision without telling me why is just a shame. I still don’t know why. I just got a no.”