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Northern Ireland golden girl Bethany Firth arrives home after Paralympic heroics

By Robert Jones

Published 20/09/2016

Bethany Firth is greeted by her dog Russell as she arrives at Belfast City Airport.
20th September 2016.
Photograph by Declan Roughan. Press Eye
Bethany Firth is greeted by her dog Russell as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Press Eye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 20-09-2016: Paralympic hero Bethany Firth arrives home to Belfast Northern Ireland. Triple gold-winning paralympian Bethany Firth has arrived back in Belfast after returning from a record-breaking Rio games for Team GB. The Co Down swimmer won gold medals in 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley alongside a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke. Her four medal haul makes her Team GB's most decorated medallist at the games. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 20-09-2016: Paralympic hero Bethany Firth arrives home to Belfast Northern Ireland. Triple gold-winning paralympian Bethany Firth has arrived back in Belfast after returning from a record-breaking Rio games for Team GB. The Co Down swimmer won gold medals in 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley alongside a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke. Her four medal haul makes her Team GB's most decorated medallist at the games. Pictured Bethany Firth and head coach Nelson Lindsay. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 20-09-2016: Paralympic hero Bethany Firth arrives home to Belfast Northern Ireland. Triple gold-winning paralympian Bethany Firth has arrived back in Belfast after returning from a record-breaking Rio games for Team GB. The Co Down swimmer won gold medals in 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley alongside a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke. Her four medal haul makes her Team GB's most decorated medallist at the games. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Bethany Firth arrives home.
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth is greeted by Elaine Reid from Disability Sport NI as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth is greeted by Elaine Reid from Disability Sport NI as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Pacemaker Press Belfast 20-09-2016: Paralympic hero Bethany Firth arrives home to Belfast Northern Ireland. Triple gold-winning paralympian Bethany Firth has arrived back in Belfast after returning from a record-breaking Rio games for Team GB. The Co Down swimmer won gold medals in 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley alongside a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke. Her four medal haul makes her Team GB's most decorated medallist at the games. Pictured (L-R) Communities Minister Paul Givan, Bethany Firth, head coach Nelson Lindsay and Disability Sports NI Elaine Reid. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with her 3 gold medals and silver medal as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Press Eye - Bethany Firth Wins 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics - 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Bethany Firth with friends from the Sports Institute as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seagorde, became the fifth female Paralympian to claim a trio of gold medals at a single Games - no male Paralympian has yet achieved this distinction. Bethany won the women's SM14 200m individual medley on Saturday night smashing her own Paralympic record with a time of 2:19.55. The hat-trick of gold medals came after she successfully defended her 100m backstroke title and also won the 200m freestyle. The 20-year-old also won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke final, considered the weakest of her four events. Bethany competes in the S14 class for swimmers with an intellectual disability and said: "I wanted to do something special and I'm so happy with my performance."
Bethany Firth arrives home after winning 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan.
Bethany Firth, followed closely by her coach Lindsay Nelson, as they arrive at Belfast City Airport. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Press Eye
Bethany Firth arrives home after winning 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan - Press Eye
Bethany Firth arrives home after winning 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan - Press Eye
Bethany Firth is greeted by Lynda Robinson of SERC as she arrives at Belfast City Airport. Photograph by Declan Roughan. Press Eye
Bethany Firth arrives home after winning 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan - Press Eye
Bethany Firth arrives home after winning 3 Gold Medals At Rio Paralympics. 20th September 2016. Photograph by Declan Roughan - Press Eye
Bethany Firth arrives home to hero's welcome. Picture: PA
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Members of the Paralympics GB Team show their medals as the British Airways cabin crew pour champagne prior to the flight back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
Great Britain's Melissa Reid arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Picture date: Tuesday September 20, 2016. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Louis Rolfe arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Anne Dunham arrive back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britian's Pamela Relph arrives at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Lauren Rowles (right) arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Rachel Morris (left) and Lauren Rowles arrive back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Lee Pearson arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Anne Dickins arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Family take a selfie whilst awaiting for athletes to arrive at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Sarah Storey arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Great Britain's Lauren Rowles (centre) arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Job King takes a photograph of Lauren Rowles of the Paralympics GB Team prior to the flight back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Grace Clough of the Paralympics GB Team shows her medal to a member of the British Airways cabin crew as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Grace Clough of the Paralympics GB Team shows her medal to a member of the British Airways cabin crew as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Sarah Storey of the Paralympics GB Team has a selfie taken with members of the British Airways crew as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Grace Clough of the Paralympics GB Team shows her medal to a member of the British Airways cabin crew as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Sarah Storey of the Paralympics GB Team shows her medals prior to flying back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Hollie Arnold of the Paralympics GB Team has a selfie taken with members of the British Airways crew as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Jon-Allan Butterworth of the Paralympics GB Team poses with his gold medal onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: James Fox and Daniel Brown of the Paralympics GB Team pose with their gold medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Sarah Storey and of the Paralympics GB Team celebrate onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Natasha Baker of the Paralympics GB Team poses with her medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Steve Stanley Bate and Jody Cundy of the Paralympics GB Team pose with their medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Kadeena Cox of the Paralympics GB Team poses with her medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Hannah Cockcroft of the Paralympics GB Team poses with her medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Sophie Wells, Kadeena Cox, Georgie Hermitage and Hannah Cockcroft of the Paralympics GB Team pose with their medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Anne Dunham of the Paralympics GB Team poses with her medals onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Jo Butterfield and Sophie Wells of the Paralympics GB Team celebrate onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 from Rio to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Will Bayley of the Paralympics GB Team poses with his table tennis gold medal as they fly back from Rio onboard the British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 19: Pam Relph and Grace Clough of the Paralympics GB Team show their medals in the flight deck as they prepare to fly back from Galeao Airport on British Airways flight BA2016 to Heathrow Airport on September 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for British Airways)

Brilliant Bethany Firth has arrived home to a hero's welcome when she landed at Belfast City Airport today.

Swimming sensation Bethany was the star of a highly successful Rio Paralympics for Northern Ireland's nine competitors, the Seaforde girl bringing home three gold medals and one silver, clocking up two world and a Paralympic record in the process.




The 20-year-old - Britain's most decorated athlete at the Rio Games - won gold in the 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Silver came in the 100m breaststroke.

There was also a gold medal each for runners Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Smyth won the 100m T13 final in 10.64 seconds while Ireland team mate McKillop showed his dominance once again in the 1500m, claiming gold in a time of 4.12.12.

Among the experience of our Paralympic champions, a number of athletes began their Paralympic careers.

Claire Taggart made her debut for Team GB in the boccia mixed team event.

The Larne athlete held her own against the world's top players and although the team was knocked out in the quarter-finals by the eventual gold medallists Thailand, Claire has secured herself the title of 'one to watch' in Tokyo 2020.

For the first time, NI had seven-a-side footballers competing for both GB and Ireland.

The trio of David Leavy (GB), Cormac Birt (Ireland) and Ryan Walker (Ireland) all made their Paralympic debuts.

With a final placing of fifth and eighth respectively, the experience the boys will bring back to the NI seven-a-side squad will be invaluable.

Phillip Eaglesham had to wait until day six of the Games to make his debut for Ireland in the 10m rifle prone.

While the Dungannon man just missed out on the final, Rio 2016 was only the beginning of his Paralympic journey.

Ballymena teenager Katie Morrow was GB's leading scorer in her debut wheelchair basketball match against Argentina, Katie and her team mates went on to secure a top four place.

Kevin O'Neill, CEO of Disability Sport NI, said: "The £1m support over the next four years, recently announced by the Department for Communities, will ensure we can continue to assist development of local elite athletes, as well as encourage participation in sport."

Elaine Reid, Disability Sport NI's Performance Manager, said: "Governing Bodies of Sport have been working hard to improve the pathways for athletes with disabilities and this hard work is reflected in the depth and quality of athlete that is being produced here in Northern Ireland."

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