Northern Ireland

NI's golden Paralympians hailed as 'astounding'

Jason Smyth on podium for Men's 100m - T13 final medal presentation
Jason Smyth on the podium for the Men's T13 100m final medal presentation
Michael McKillop after medal presentation
Michael McKillop was a runaway winner of the T32 800 metres title
Bethany Firth poses with her gold medal
Bethany Firth set the gold standard in the 100m Backstroke on Friday night
Jason Smyth holding Irish flag
Jason Smyth poses with his "Fastest Paralympian on the Planet" flag
Michael McKillop kneels on the track after winning gold
Michael McKillop broke the 800m world record with a time of 1:57.22
Bethany Firth in the pool after her gold medal win
Bethany Firth won gold despite struggling with a shoulder injury

The three golds won by Paralympians from Northern Ireland over the past 48 hours has been hailed as an "astounding achievement" by the sports minister.

Sprinter Jason Smyth from Eglinton won gold in the 100m on Saturday evening while Glengormley's Michael McKillop claimed victory in the 800m.

Their success followed the gold medal won by Seaforde swimmer Bethany Firth in the 100m Backstroke on Friday night.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has paid tribute to all three athletes.

She described Smyth's performance in the 100m final as "stunning" and "incredible".

The 25-year-old Paralympian, who narrowly missed out on a place at the Olympics by just 0.04 seconds, smashed his own world record for the second time in 24 hours with a time of 10.46 seconds.

Smyth, who is visually impaired, is now based in Florida and trains with US Olympic sprinter, Tyson Gay.

Shortly after his friend and room-mate stormed to victory, Michael McKillop also set a new world record on the track.

The 22-year-old, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, maintained his six year unbeaten Paralympic record in the 800m.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: "In less than 48 hours, our golden Paralympians, Bethany, Michael and Jason have proved they are the best - three golds is an astounding achievement."

All three athletes are representing Team Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, also sent his congratulations and said: "This has been a great weekend for Ireland and for sport."

Meanwhile Team GB's archer Sharon Vennard from Greyabbey has missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the women's individual re-curve after she was beaten on Sunday morning by China's Yan Hui-lian.

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