World Para-swimming Championships: Alice Tai, Tully Kearney and Bethany Firth win gold


Britain’s Alice Tai set a new world record as she won her second gold at the World Para-Swimming Championships.

The 20-year-old, who competes in the S8 category, followed up Monday’s 100m freestyle win in the 100m backstroke.

There was also a second gold for team-mate Tully Kearney who triumphed in the S5 200m freestyle.

Britain’s other gold on day two went to Northern Ireland’s Bethany Firth who is now World, European and Paralympic champion in the S14 100m backstroke.

Tai beat her own mark of one minute 8.09 seconds set in Glasgow in April by 0.05 seconds with fellow Briton Megan Richter securing bronze.

In 2012, the pair were part of the British Swimming inspiration programme for young athletes and watching the action at the Aquatics Centre.

“I thought I would cry at the end but I managed to hold it in,” Tai said afterwards.

“It means so much in front of a home crowd and to share the podium with Megan is special.

“I moved programme last year and it has been very positive in helping me to learn about myself. I’m happy to be here and hopefully I can take that into Tokyo next year.”

Kearney, who added to her 50m freestyle title on Monday, has just finished a degree in physiology from Manchester Met University.

The 22-year-old had a less than ideal build-up to the Championships, overcoming bilateral shoulder surgery late last year and a recent hospital stay to take her place on the medal podium.

“Five weeks ago, I was in hospital thinking I wouldn’t compete, so to come close to my PB with very little training is great,” she said.

“This year has been a massive learning curve. I like to push through the pain but I have to respect the boundaries and know when to push.

“I am better at knowing what my body can do and when to back off and when to push it.”

As a 16-year-old, Firth won gold for Ireland at the Aquatics Centre at London 2012 before switching nationalities two years later.

She marked her return to the venue with another gold, beating a shoulder problem which hampered her preparations with team-mate Jessica-Jane Applegate winning bronze.

Along with silvers for Jordan Catchpole (S14 100m backstroke) and Stephen Clegg (S12 100m butterfly) and bronzes for Maisie Summers-Newton (S6 100m freestyle) and Louis Lawler (S14 100m backstroke) it means GB have won 20 medals after two days of competition to be second in the medal table behind Italy.