Jessica-Jane Applegate: Paralympic gold comes to Belton

Jessica-Jane (JJ) Applegate plans to lock her medal away

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Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate has said she plans to celebrate her gold medal with a 16th birthday party and a slice of cake.

Applegate, from Belton, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, set a Paralympic record in the women's S14 200m freestyle final on Sunday.

The teenager was in training when she turned 16 on 22 August.

She said: "I had to lay off the cake, but now I can finally celebrate my birthday with a gold medal."

Jessica-Jane Applegate and coach Alex Pinniger Applegate, with coach Alex Pinniger, was cheered on by fans in her local pub

Applegate, who qualified fastest after breaking her own British record in the morning session, was third with 50m to go before a storming final length.

The swimmer, who has Asperger's syndrome, clocked two minutes 12.63 seconds to beat Australia's Taylor Corry by 0.55 secs.

Applegate, who was fourth in the 100m backstroke, said: "The family have been really supportive and helped me all the way through it. I'm so happy, I got out and cried and my mum was crying as well."

The Paralympian's golden performance was cheered on by hundreds of people at Belton's Railway Tavern pub - and a nearby postbox was painted gold on Monday to mark the achievement.

"I can't wait to see my gold postbox," said Applegate. "I'm ecstatic, I just can't believe it."

'She's amazing'

Jane Kinge, Jessica's grandmother, was among the spectators yelling at the television. She said "the pub was packed inside and out".

"Everyone was screaming, laughing and crying. The boys even turned off the Man United match to watch it - it was just amazing".

Royal Mail painting a gold postbox in Belton Royal Mail painted a golden postbox on Station Road South, Belton on Monday

Applegate spent about 16-20 hours a week training at the UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club (CONSC) alongside head coach Alex Pinniger ahead of the Games.

Mark Bateman, CONSC chairman said: "We're so delighted for her and she's worked so hard.

"She's passed all our expectations, not only just competing but getting a gold medal - she's been such an inspiration for the club."

"We're all looking forward to having a knees-up and celebrating not only her gold medal but finally a chance to celebrate her 16th birthday - she's amazing."

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