Bethany Firth and Jessica-Jane ApplegateGreat Britain and Ireland swimmer Bethany Firth has won the gold medal in the S14 100m backstroke event at the Rio Paralympics in a new world record time.

Firth won in a time of 1 minute 4.05 seconds, beating her previous world record of 1 minute 4.53 seconds. Dutch woman Marlov Van der Kulk took second place and fellow Briton Jessica-Jane Applegate won the bronze medal.

The S14 classification is for swimmers with an intellectual disability.

Firth, aged 20 from County Down, also won this event at the London 2012 Paralympics for Ireland, but has switched nationality in time for the Rio Games.

Speaking to the BBC after the race, Firth said: “It feels amazing. I'm just so happy. 

“I've had a lot of setbacks in the last four years, breaking my wrist. I'm so glad to have retained my title."

Firth has 3 more chances to win more medals – she is also competing in the 200m freestyle, 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley.

Swimming is one of just 3 sports that are open to competitors with learning disabilities at the Paralympics. In all, competitors are competing in 23 sports in Rio. In all, just 9 events are for people with learning disabilities. Before the Games began, learning disability charity Mencap launched a petition that called for the International Paralympic Committee to address the severe inequalities faced by athletes with a learning disability.