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Bethany Firth: BBC defend coverage of swim star’s Commonwealth Games gold following criticism they ‘ignored’ athlete

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Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth (centre) takes centre stage with her gold medal ahead of England's Jessica-Jane Applegate (left - silver) and Louise Fiddes (right - bronze). Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth (centre) takes centre stage with her gold medal ahead of England's Jessica-Jane Applegate (left - silver) and Louise Fiddes (right - bronze). Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

PA

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth (centre) with the gold medal, England's Jessica-Jane Applegate (left) with the silver medal and England's Louise Fiddes with the bronze after the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Tim Goode/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth (centre) with the gold medal, England's Jessica-Jane Applegate (left) with the silver medal and England's Louise Fiddes with the bronze after the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Tim Goode/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

PA

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth celebrates with the gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth celebrates with the gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

PA

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth celebrates with the gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth celebrates with the gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle S14 Final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre on day six of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday August 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Swimming. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

PA

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Northern Ireland's Bethany Firth (centre) takes centre stage with her gold medal ahead of England's Jessica-Jane Applegate (left - silver) and Louise Fiddes (right - bronze). Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

The BBC has defended its coverage of Northern Ireland’s success at the Commonwealth Games after criticism on social media they “ignored” Bethany Firth on Wednesday’s evening news bulletin.

The 26-year-old swimmer gained Northern Ireland’s first gold medal at the Birmingham games in the S14 200m freestyle event and was followed by fellow swimmer Daniel Wiffen claiming silver in the men’s 1500m freestyle at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

However, on the main News at Ten programme, coverage of the games focused entirely on athletes from England and Scotland and failed to mention the Northern Irish success on the bulletin.

The former Ulster Unionist Party MLA and chairman Danny Kennedy led the criticism of the organisation, branding it “shockingly poor reporting by BBC News and BBC Sport”.

“Ignoring the gold medal success of Northern Ireland’s Bethany Firth in the Commonwealth Games 2022. Disgraceful, but why am I not surprised,” he tweeted.

Another user added: “I only heard about her winning on Radio Ulster this morning”.

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However, others disagreed with Mr Kennedy over the coverage, with Katherine on Twitter replying: “I watched the race and post-race interview live and the medal ceremony.

“The race was also featured on Today at the Games. In fairness considerable coverage was given to Bethany, Kate O’Connor’s silver in heptathlon and Dan Wiffen’s silver in 1500m swim.”

And another added: “No, I disagree. Her race was shown live, with a good build up to it, she was interviewed after the race and the medal ceremony was also shown. I was pleased to see her get the coverage.”

In a response to this newspaper, the BBC said the coverage of Firth’s success has been shown across many platforms.

“Bethany Firth’s gold medal success has been reported across many BBC News programmes, including BBC Breakfast, the News at One, the Today programme and 5 live,” the BBC spokesperson said.

“That’s in addition to the main Commonwealth Games coverage on BBC One and BBC Sport online.”

Firth led the way for Northern Ireland on what was a spectacular day of success at the Commonwealth Games with the team picking up a sensational six medals.

Heptathlete Kate O’Connor also took home a silver medal for Northern Ireland behind England’s former world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson.


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