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Bethany Firth surprised to win another Paralympic silver to stretch stunning medal tally

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Bethany Firth MBE was surprised to land an IM medal despite her interrupted training. Pic: John Walton/PA Wire.

Bethany Firth MBE was surprised to land an IM medal despite her interrupted training. Pic: John Walton/PA Wire.

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Great Britain's Bethany Firth celebrates winning the silver medal in the Women's 300m Individual Medley final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre during day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Tuesday August 31, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story PARALYMPICS Swimming. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Great Britain's Bethany Firth celebrates winning the silver medal in the Women's 300m Individual Medley final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre during day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Tuesday August 31, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story PARALYMPICS Swimming. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

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Bethany Firth MBE was surprised to land an IM medal despite her interrupted training. Pic: John Walton/PA Wire.

Bethany Firth admitted she “didn’t expect much’” as she won her third medal of the 2021 Paralympic Games with a silver in the S14 Women’s 200m IM.

Having already scooped silver in the 200m freestyle last week and gold as part of Team GB with a world record time in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle relay over the weekend, Firth came in behind only the Russian Olympic Committee’s Valeriia Shabalina on Tuesday morning.

In all, it’s Firth’s eighth Paralympic medal (five golds and three silvers) across the 2012, 2016 and 2012 Games.

And it was won despite a shoulder injury hampering her training for the four-stroke event, with her surprise capped by Team GB team-mate Louise Fiddes’ bronze having initially been disqualified after her heat and reinstated only following an appeal.

Firth made a quick start although by the end of the butterfly length was 0.40 seconds behind 2019 world champion Shabalina.

That had turned to 1.2 seconds adrift after the backstroke and Firth was only able to draw that back into 1.12 seconds after the breaststroke.

In the end, it left her too much to do in the freestyle length, Firth beaten into silver by1.2 seconds but finishing almost seven seconds clear of bronze medalist Fiddes.

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"(Valeriia’s) IM is definitely one of her strongest strokes and because I didn’t train it, I didn’t expect much so to come out with a medal and see Louise get bronze, it was a great night,” Firth said. “I’m just looking forward to Thursday now.”

That’s when she’ll be back in the pool for her signature event, the SM14 100m backstroke, hoping to win the event for the third Games in a row, adding to success at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Either way, she’ll then be able to jet home to her family in Seaforde, admitting that their absence in Tokyo was an emotional thought.

"We’re just so proud of her,” said mum Lindsey on Channel 4. “She hasn’t been doing the (IM) strokes because of a shoulder injury so to see her come away with silver is just fantastic.

"We can’t wait to see her and get to the airport to give her big hugs.”

Dad Peter added: "Swimming has transformed her completely, given her wonderful confidence and tremendous opportunities. It’s amazing.”

Attention now turns that Thursday backstroke event. The heats begin at 2.16am BST with the final scheduled for 10.10am.

Paralympic gold medalist Liz Johnson, speaking in the Channel 4 studio, concluded: “It was a phenomenal swim for Bethany. She knew she was going to be up against it and she looked happier with that silver than she did with her 200m freestyle silver. She’s still got her best event to come on Thursday.”

The Northern Ireland competitors in action tomorrow are Firth’s fellow Ards SC swimmer Barry McClements in the SM9 200m medley, Dungannon shooter Phil Eaglesham and Team GB wheelchair basketball star James MacSorley.


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