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Joy for Northern Ireland as Firth claims gold while Wiffen takes silver at Commonwealth Games

Paralympic and World Champion Firth lead from start to finish in the women’s 200m freestyle S14.

Bethany Firth with her gold medal.
Bethany Firth with her gold medal.
Image: Ian MacNicol/INPHO

BETHANY FIRTH CLAIMED Northern Ireland’s first-ever Commonwealth gold in the pool in the women’s 200m freestyle S14, with English duo Jessica-Jane Applegate and Louise Fiddes second and third respectively.

The outcome was never in doubt as Paralympic and World Champion Firth lead from start to finish, touching first in 2:07.02. The Ards swimmer now has Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth Gold in the event.

There was more joy for Northern Ireland as Daniel Wiffen took silver in the men’s 1500m final, where England’s Luke Turley was a bronze medallist.

Wiffen took almost six seconds off his Irish record to win silver. Wiffen had only broken 15 minutes for the first time at the World Championships in June in 14:57.66. Tonight, the 21-year-old swam 14:51.79 to finish just behind Australia’s Sam Short in 14:48.54. The pair were the only ones under 15 minutes with England’s Turley third in 15:12.78.

Wiffen and Firth’s results brings the Northern Ireland medal tally to three following Barry McClements bronze medal, as swimming came to a close at the Commonwealth Games this evening.

In the 50m Backstroke Final, Danielle Hill closed out her Games with a seventh-place finish in 28.29 seconds. Hill had an impressive week, with four semi-finals, three finals and a new Irish record in the 50m freestyle, reiterating her position as Ireland’s fastest ever female swimmer. The 22-year-old now travels to Rome for the European Championships starting on Thursday 11 August.

Tom Dean became England’s most decorated athlete at a single Commonwealth Games, walking away from Birmingham with a “special” gold after six successive silver medals.

Dean was again beaten by Duncan Scott in the men’s 200 metres individual medley on Wednesday night, having also been pipped by his friend and rival over the same distance in the freestyle at the weekend.

But alongside Brodie Williams, James Wilby and James Guy, Dean finally got his hands on Commonwealth gold as England finished eight hundredths of a second ahead of Australia in the men’s 4x100m medley relay final, with Scotland completing the podium positions at a raucous Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

The previous English record for most medals won at a Games held jointly by Brian Brinkley, Mel Marshall and Siobhan Marie O’Connor was therefore broken by Dean, who made it lucky number seven after just edging out Kyle Chalmers in the freestyle leg to get his team home in three minutes and 31.8 seconds.

The double Olympic champion said: “Finally, six silvers and one gold. That was such a sweet way to finish what has been an incredible week. The big number seven this week, which is so special.

“Silvers are incredible. I’m so pleased to walk away with that many silvers but we are competitive people by nature, it’s in our DNA, so it does sting slightly when you are so close to getting that gold. That’s why I am so glad it came together here.”

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Dean scooped a famous Olympic gold in the men’s 200m freestyle last year, edging out Scott, who has gained a measure of revenge in recent days with two individual wins over the Londoner.

Scott hit the front early on the final night of swimming at these Games before clocking a winning time of one minute and 56.88 seconds, withstanding a late charge from Dean, who finished 0.13 seconds behind after surging up the leaderboard, having been seventh at halfway following a poor backstroke leg.

Tomorrow, Northern Ireland’s interest in the pool ends with Tokyo Olympian Tanya Watson taking to the Boards for Diving. Watson, a semi-finalist in Tokyo, will compete in the Platform (10M) preliminaries at 14.33 with the top 12 progressing to the Final at 19:34.

Additional reporting by Press Association 

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