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Bethany Firth aiming to return to her ‘happy place’ as she seeks to complete medal collection with Commonwealth glory

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Swimmer Bethany Firth has won medals at every level... except the Commonwealth Games

Swimmer Bethany Firth has won medals at every level... except the Commonwealth Games

Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Swimmer Bethany Firth has won medals at every level... except the Commonwealth Games

Bethany Firth believes the key to completing her medal set by winning one at the Commonwealth Games is to get into her “happy place” in Birmingham.

Northern Ireland’s greatest ever Paralympian has won medals at every level of the sport except one – the Commonwealth Games – but she hopes to rectify that in the West Midlands this week.

Firth has been almost unbeatable in the pool since she started competing, racking up an incredible 18 medals, including three at the recent World Championships in Madeira as well as eight at the Paralympics in Rio and Tokyo.

However, draping a Commonwealth Games medal around her neck has so far proven elusive, but as she prepares for the Women’s 200m Freestyle S14 Final on Wednesday, she is feeling relaxed and ready to go.

That is because for the first time husband Andrew will be in attendance watching her compete, and she hopes that they will head off for their honeymoon in east Asia with an extra bit of baggage – preferably of the gold variety!

“Because of COVID and the restrictions Andrew has only ever seen me race on YouTube not in person. I will be nervous with him watching but it will be great to have him there at the Commonwealth Games to see me race as well,” she said.

“I don’t have a Commonwealth medal so that is what I’d like to get that this year.

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“I’m really excited to go and compete. I’ve such a great team around me who support me so much. I feel in a good position and as long as I’m happy in and out of the water I think I’ll do well.

“In swimming people get really caught up in how you actually do and get caught up in the medals and they actually don’t ask you ‘how do you feel? How was that race? Did you enjoy it?’ I think that’s the main thing – if I go into a race that I’m really happy and enjoy the race I’ll be happy with whatever I get from it.

“A happy Bethany is a fast Bethany!”

The 26-year-old has endured a difficult lockdown, having to practice in her back garden in a freezing cold paddling pool as well as having to rehab from a broken right foot, which meant her preparation for events was less than ideal.

But Firth has praised the work that she has done with Sport NI at their Sports Institute at Jordanstown, not only physically but also mentally, which has allowed her to stay focused on her sporting ambitions.

“They are so important to the development of my career; I wouldn’t have achieved everything that I’ve achieved without them. Even when times are tough, they pick you up and they understand you,” she explained.

“Sometimes people forget that you are a person, but my Sport Institute team have never forgotten that. Bethy being happy comes first and Bethy the athlete comes second. That makes such an impact because if I come in feeling grumpy then they do something that makes me happy and then we start into training.

"Everything resolves around what we are doing together as a team, not just me. If it was just me, I’d just give up!”


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