THERE’S not too many things Sammi Kinghorn has not experienced in her career so far. But today will see the 23-year-old step into the unknown.

Kinghorn is set to compete at the World Para Athletics Championships in Doha, which begin today, and for the first time ever, will be defending a global title.

However, added to the pressure of being defending champion, Kinghorn has another challenge to deal with; over the summer, the wheelchair racer was out of action for seven weeks following an operation and as a result, she will only compete in the T53 100m rather than multiple events as she did at the last World Championships two years ago where she won gold in both the T53 100m and 200m.

Her operation was not sport-related and while an enforced break is rarely a welcome occurrence, the sprinter admits a number of positives have resulted from her time off.

“I really missed it during that break,” she said.

“Time off gives you time to re-evaluate what you want to achieve and I think you get a hunger to get back.

“It was frustrating because people thought I was injured and I wasn’t, so that’s why I put it out there that it was an operation, not an injury. There was nothing wrong with my shoulders and I knew that when I was back at it, I’d be back full pelt. So there’s a bit of wanting to prove everyone wrong. I feel that time off has given me that bit of extra drive and determination. You’d be doing the wrong thing if you weren’t trying to show people how good you were.

I think it might also work in my favour because people now don’t know where I am, they don’t know how fit I am.”

On the surface, Kinghorn invariably appears ice cool under pressure. And while she is, she believes, in excellent shape, she also reveals the prospect of defending a world title is a tad daunting.

“My recovery has gone well - my body feels good and I feel like I’m pretty much back to where I was,” she said.

“I just didn’t want to put myself through the whole gruelling schedule again after going through everything I have so that’s why I’m only doing the 100m.

“It’s a bit scary to be defending champion though.

“I still see myself as one of the newer athletes so it’s quite strange to be defending a title. This is a really awkward time of year to have a Worlds but it would be amazing to defend my title and win again.”

While the World Championships are, obviously, a hugely important event in the athletics calendar, all eyes are already on the 2020 Paralympics, which are just nine-and-a-half moths away. Kinghorn has yet to add a Paralympic medal to her collection and she admits that even this far out from Tokyo, everything is geared towards performing to her best there.

But having been a part of Team GB at the Rio Paralympics three years ago, Kinghorn admits to feeling far better equipped to deal with the stresses of the biggest event in the para-sport world this time around.

“Tokyo is completely on my mind,” she said.

“All the planning is geared towards it – things like I won’t have much time off after the Worlds because I’ll start the build-up to Tokyo.

“The time goes so fast – this year has gone so fast so I can’t even imagine how quick next year will go.

“It’s good that I know better what to expect now – I’m really glad I got that opportunity to go to Rio and not be on the podium. It gave me that experience of knowing what it’s like and experiencing the nerves and everything so I feel like I’m far more prepared for Tokyo having had that.

“Before Rio, I was terrified but this time, I know what it’ll be like. Last time, I was only 20 and I remember looking at the other girls and thinking they have so much more experience than me, they’re so much better whereas now, I know that I deserve to be on that start line.”

Kinghorn will be joined in Doha by six of her fellow Scots; Maria Lyle, Jo Butterfield, Libby Clegg, Gavin Drysdale, Kayleigh Haggo and Owen Millar.