Rio 2016 Paralympics: Belfast reception for golden girl Firth

Paralympian Bethany Firth won four medals at Rio 2016

Triple gold medallist Bethany Firth says it was an emotional homecoming as she returned from the Rio Paralympics to Belfast on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old swimmer from Co Down also won a silver to make her Britain's most decorated medallist in Brazil.

"It's so overwhelming and emotional to see everyone here - I didn't expect this whatsoever and I really am so thankful to everyone," said Firth.

Pupils from her old school were among those to greet her.

Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall was on the same flight from London, but even the arrival of a Hollywood star failed to divert the attention of the cameras awaiting the return of Northern Ireland's golden girl.

Firth was leapt upon by her most enthusiastic fan at Belfast City Airport - the swimmer's pet dog Russell sprinted across the arrivals hall and into her arms.

The long wait for Yorkshire terrier Russell is over as he is reunited with Bethany Firth
The long wait for Yorkshire terrier Russell is over as he is reunited with Bethany Firth

"I have been away from home for so long and training lots and lots and now I get time with him which is going to be so good," she added.

Bethany said she was delighted to be seen as a role model for aspiring Paralympians and she will soon be back in the pool, training for more glory.

"I really hope I am," she said. "If someone hadn't started me at such a young age I wouldn't be here so I just hope I can inspire others.

"It's a great sport and it brings you so much joy and you get to meet so many people.

"I never put a limit on what I can do, so I just can't wait to get going and see what happens."

Firth won gold in the S14 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and was runner-up in the 100m breaststroke.

She also secured a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics.

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