FOR a long time, Samantha Kinghorn worried that she was not like other people her age.

She worried about being an outsider, about not being accepted, about being different. She worried that she would be "that girl in the wheelchair". Then she realised something. "I discovered I was born to do wheelchair racing," confides the 17-year-old.

The teenager is speaking figuratively; it is only two-and-a-half years since she was paralysed from the waist down after being crushed by snow falling from the roof of her family home and almost exactly 12 months since her first race, yet the past year has been the most rewarding of her short life.

She might have lost the use of her legs but she has gained a purpose. Boys, make-up and parties have been superseded by training, studying and dreams, the most prominent being a determination to not just reach the Paralympics in Rio in 2014, but to win a gold medal. It is that drive that fuels 6am training sessions six days a week, with a further stint wedged in after school but before homework.

"I always think that, when I'm in the Paralympic final, if someone just beats me it's because they did that session that I missed," she says, exhibiting the desire that will be recognised this evening at the Young Scot Awards.

It will be showcased, too, in this weekend's London Mini Marathon. Prohibited from entering the full event because of her age, Kinghorn should have no problem besting the 18 minutes it took her to complete the three-mile course and finish second last year, having honed her technique to such an extent that she has already registered the qualification marks for both the Commonwealth Games and the Paralympics. That, she concedes, was beyond anything she had imagined when she first met 'Mollie', her racing chair, a little over a year ago, having been introduced to the sport at the spinal unit games the previous summer and joined Red Star, the renowned Glasgow disability sports club run by coach Ian Mirfin.

It is, too, something she could not have envisaged in the aftermath of her accident. Kinghorn was helping her father, Neil, clear paths at the family farm just outside the Berwickshire town of Gordon in December 2010 when an avalanche of snow and ice slid from a roof and engulfed her. Neil had to clear the way with a tractor to allow access for an ambulance. "I remember lying on the ground and my mum, Elaine, telling me I was winded and me saying 'no, I've broken my back. I'm never going to walk again'," she recalls. "I knew straight away. You get this tingle all through your body and all your muscles cramp then let go and I knew then that's the last time I would feel my legs."

The clarity and maturity of her words become even more startling with the realisation that Kinghorn was just 14 at the time.

"I also remember feeling my back and there was a big lump where it had broken," she continues. "Then, when we got to hospital, I was left in a room while my mum and dad were being told but I knew myself that I wouldn't walk again. I didn't see any point crying, I just thought I needed to think about what I could do rather than what I couldn't. The silly thing was I didn't even consider a wheelchair; I thought I'd be in bed forever and had planned that I could do a degree online, invent something, things like that."

After a month of lying down, Kinghorn began moving around the Glasgow's Spinal Injuries Unit in a chair. However, having promised her auntie Ashleigh she would walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid at her wedding – "I must have been high on morphine" – she undertook the gruelling challenge of learning to use callipers, which prolonged her stay in hospital.

She was there for six months before reluctantly returning to Earlston High School, the severity of her injuries meaning she was among adults instead of being treated at Yorkhill. That, she insists, was the making of her. "I had to order meals, put my dishes away, strip and wash my bed and clothes; I grew up so much," she says. "The petty little things just went out of my mind because I had other things to deal with. I just didn't want to waste my life any more because I had seen how quickly it could change. I'm unable to walk, but I can do everything else, even get out of my chair and bum shuffle . . ."

Indeed, she has learned to adapt to such a degree that she has been able to lamb on the farm by herself. "That was one of my targets," she says. "Dad left me in the shed one day and I threw myself out of the chair and got on with it."

Her ambitions do not end there. Rio and Glasgow are her main goals but Kinghorn wants to backpack round the world, expand her experience of hosting talks in local schools by building her own company doing inspirational seminars and, one day, start a family. "I did the whole 'what if' thing but you can't go back in time so there is no point going round and round in your head," she says. "It's something that happened and I think it was supposed to happen, actually, and it's made me realise if I get an opportunity I should just take it, don't ponder it and put it off. I just want to do as much as I can in my short life."