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Golden girl Bethany Firth takes Worlds by storm

Top step: Bethany Firth on way to gold in London last night
Top step: Bethany Firth on way to gold in London last night
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Bethany Firth struck gold in the 100m backstroke at the World Para swimming championships in London last night.

Firth, who took silver in the 200m freestyle on Monday night, returned to the pool yesterday morning to qualify fastest for the S14 100m back final and then soared to victory.

The 23-year-old from Seaforde was a body length clear as she rose after a superb start and simply burned her rivals right to the touch.

At the turn the Ards Swimming Club member was 1.2 seconds ahead and maintained her lead to touch for gold in 1:05.97, 1.26 seconds ahead of Russia's Valeriia Shabalina. Fellow British swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate was third.

Shabalina won Monday's 200m freestyle gold ahead of Firth and Applegate.

"I'm just really happy," said Firth. "I've just come back from injury, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the event. To come to London and put in a performance like that, I'm just so happy.

"There were so many supportive fans and it was a wonderful environment for home athletes."

Having won four Paralympic golds, this was Firth's first world gold and more medals will be in her sights as she competes in the 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly.

Firth won three silver medals at the 2013 world championships in Montreal but after missing the 2015 championships through injury was unable to compete at the 2017 championships in Mexico after the British team pulled out following the earthquake in the country.

Meanwhile, fellow Ards swimmer Barry McClements clocked a personal best of 1:07:07 to finish fifth in the heats of the men's 100m backstroke S9.

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