THE problem with Sammi Kinghorn’s success over the past two years is that she is now expected to win every race she enters.

No matter that at Gold Coast 2018 she is racing the 1500m and the marathon and not the sprint events in which she is double world champion, her rise to becoming one of the top athletes in the world has seen expectations go through the roof.

But Kinghorn says competing in these new events means she is putting less pressure on herself.

“In one sense, I don’t feel as much pressure because these are not my normal events but then in another sense, people are starting to know my name now and they’ve seen me do well in London last year so they expect me to do well all the time,” she said.

“That makes me a bit nervous but I’m just trying to stress to everyone that this isn’t my event and I definitely won’t be carrying on with it after the Commonwealth Games.

“But at the same time, you want to do well for yourself and your country. I’ve got my own goals and so it’s exciting to see how I can do.”

Kinghorn has been in Australia for a month to help her acclimatise and with just three days until the opening ceremony, she is in good shape. The only problem is, that she has no idea what a wheelchair marathon athlete should feel like.

“I’m feeling good - but I don’t know how endurance athletes should feel. Usually, with the sprints, I can look at my speedo and if I’m going fast, then I’ll be fast in a race. But I’m not really sure what speed I should be able to push.

“I’m feeling better than I did before the Chicago Marathon so that must a be a good thing and I’m feeling good about how things have progressed. So it’s just about trusting my own body and trusting my coach that I’ll be ready to race.”

At Glasgow 2014, Kinghorn was an unknown teenager, but this time around, despite still being only 22, she is one of the most established in the squad. Her experience does, she admits, relax her significantly, although her pre-race nerves are no better.

“How I feel now is completely different to ahead of Glasgow,” she said. “Four years ago, I was the youngest in the athletics team whereas now I feel far more prepared and I know much better what to expect.

“But on the day of my race, I’ll still be just as nervous – I’m pretty sure I’ll still feel pretty sick and might even actually be sick that morning.

“Now though, I’m used to that. I know I’ll probably feel really horrible on the day of the race but I always tell myself I feel like that because I’m passionate about my sport and it’s because I want to do well. It’s just adrenaline and as soon as the gun goes, I’m in my element and I’m doing what I love. In those hours before the race, you do wonder why you do it but then when the race starts, I know exactly why I do it.”

Four years on, Kinghorn is not only a more experienced athlete, but there has also been a significant change in the way she is talked about in the media. At the beginning, her primary narrative was that she had had an accident as a teenager that paralysed her. These days however, the coverage is purely about her sporting achievements and that is testament to her success.

“I’ve noticed a huge difference,” she said of the way she’s portrayed in the media. “When I first started in the sport, I’d say to my mum and dad that I wanted to be known as ‘Samantha, a great athlete’, not ‘Samantha who had an accident’.

“Winning a few awards last year really helped, I think I gained some respect because of that. I’m really proud of my background though and I really enjoy going into schools and talking about it because I think it helps kids realise that there’s so many people in the world going through so many different things - and I’m very aware that there’s people in the word going through things that are a lot harder than I’ve been through.

“It’s nice speaking to kids and telling them that if they believe in themselves and strive for things, it doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through.”

Kinghorn may be fully focused on the Games but her training camp has given her the opportunity to be an occasional tourist - and she has loved it.

“On our very first day, there were koalas for us to hold,” she said. “At that moment, I knew for sure we were in Australia.

“And a few of us went to Australia Zoo - it was amazing. When I was younger, I wanted to be a zoologist - Steve Irwin was my idol and when he died, I cried for weeks. We were in with the tigers feeding them and the trainers were showing us how they do the tricks with them - it was incredible. We got to pet the kangaroos too.

“It was great to chill out like that - you need to relax because if you’re constantly stressed out about the competition, that’s so tiring so it was a great day.”