County Down's Bethany Firth gains silver medal in Tokyo Paralympics

County Down's Bethany Firth has added to her incredible Paralympic medal haul with silver in the S14 200m freestyle in Tokyo.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 2:40 pm
Bethany Firth in Swimathon tshirt with her medals last year. Picture: Brian Thompson.

The 25-year-old from Seaforde breezed through her morning heat to secure her place in the final with a time of 2:10.58 and hopes were high she could defend the title she won in Rio five years ago.

But she was unable to add a fifth gold medal to her record as Valeriia Shabalina of the Russian Paralympic Committee touched up first in a time of 2:03.71, only 0.33 seconds faster than Firth.

Having qualified for the final with the fastest time ahead of Firth, Shabalina pushed just in front in the final 25m and held on to claim an impressive win.

Firth, winner of the event in Rio five years ago, will return to defend her 200m individual medley title on Tuesday before the 100m backstroke two days later.

Before arriving in Tokyo Firth had expressed her desire to place greater emphasis on enjoying the competition, having famously been forced to improvise her training during last year's lockdowns with a paddling pool in her back garden.

"I love when races are so close. Unfortunately I didn't get the touch but after the year I've had I'm so happy with that and I can't wait for all the races to come," Firth told Channel 4.

"After this year I just decided that I wanted to swim for fun so I'm going to see how my times are.

"I'm so excited to get back into proper training and hopefully go to Paris [for the 2024 Paralympics]".