Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

No place like home for Northern Ireland medal heroes

All of Northern Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic medal-winning athletes are home from London and enjoying every moment of the adulation coming their way.

Bethany Firth (16), from Seaforde, Co Down, secured Team Ireland’s first gold medal early on in the Games.

The 16-year-old swimmer was thrilled to clinch the top prize in the S14 100m backstroke, and is prepared for how her life will change now she is a Paralympian.

“It’s going to be a good change,” Beth said.

The inspiring teenager, who has a learning disability, was Northern Ireland’s youngest Paralympics athlete to compete in London.

“It felt like the crowd was carrying you on and if they weren’t there I don’t think we could have done as well as we did,” she said.

“I was praying throughout and because of my shoulder injury, which happened five months ago, it was really hard.”

Cycling bronze medallist James Brown, from Portaferry, Co Down, said he is still buzzing from claiming bronze in cycling's tandem road time trial.

“My feet haven’t really touched the ground,” he said.

The partially-sighted 47-year-old was the last athlete from Northern Ireland to compete in London and is enjoying meeting fans now he is home.

“We were racing almost right up to the last minute, then we had the closing ceremony and quite a bit of travelling and various appointments,” he said.

“It’s been great going around Belfast. Everyone wants a photograph beside me with the medal.”

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