Bethany Firth claims third successive backstroke gold in Tokyo

Northern Ireland’s Bethany Firth claimed a third successive gold in the S14 100m backstroke after a dominant performance in Tokyo.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 11:17 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 12:53 pm

Firth led all the way as she came home to win by 0.93s from Russia’s Valeriia Shabalina, clinching her fourth medal of the Paralympics Games and a sixth career gold.

The 25-year-old won the title at London 2012 for Ireland but in 2013 she switched to represent Great Britain and successfully retained her crown in Rio.

The Seaforde swimmer’s team-mate Jessica-Jane Applegate fought hard to take bronze for her third medal of these Games.

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Bethany Firth of Team Great Britain reacts after winning the gold medal during the women's 100m Backstroke - S14 final on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images).

Earlier, Dame Sarah Storey made history by becoming Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian after powering back to claim the 17th gold of her glittering career.

Cycling star Storey trailed veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf by 75 seconds at one stage of the C4-5 road race at the rain-soaked Fuji International Speedway but underlined her class to snatch glory in a finishing time of 2:21:51.

Fellow Briton Crystal Lane-Wright picked up her third silver of the Games by crossing the line seven seconds off the pace, with France’s Marie Patouillet completing the podium in 2:23:49.

On an extraordinary morning, there was also a British one-two in the men’s C1-3 event, with Ben Watson taking gold in 2:04:23, a minute and and 20 seconds ahead of compatriot Fin Graham.

Mother-of-two Storey had matched Mike Kenny’s long-standing British record of 16 golds on Tuesday by winning the C5 time trial at this venue

The 43-year-old was already more decorated than swimmer Kenny going into her third and final event of the Games owing to a greater haul of medals, which ahead of the race stood at 27 to his 18.

The former swimmer – whose first five golds came in the pool, beginning at Barcelona ’92 – has now won all 13 bike events entered dating back to her Games debut on two wheels in Beijing in 2008.

“I couldn’t have imagined having eight Games, let alone winning medals at every Games, and 17 of those medals being gold,” she said.

“It’s the dream I didn’t have coming true.

“I just wanted to be a British athlete, I wanted to compete for my country for as long as I possibly could, and to still be going strong in Games number eight is truly amazing.”