BETHANY Firth became so big in 2016 that she upstaged a Hollywood superstar. In September as she flew home after her stunning success at the Paralympics in Rio, the 21-year-old swimmer was on the same flight as Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall.
A large crowd had gathered in Belfast City Airport, not to greet Kim, but Bethany and her three gold medals and silver secured with sparkling performances in Brazil.
It was quite the reception for the modest young woman, who was the most successful member of Team GB at the Games.
Firth was in fantastic form at the Paralympics. She was a joy to watch as she stepped on to the podium with a big smile on her face time and time again.
The Ards swimming club member, with learning difficulties, began in style winning the S14 100m backstroke in a world record breaking time of 1:04.05.
And the medals didn’t stop there. They kept on coming as she triumphed in the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley and she earned a silver in the 100m breaststroke.
She said: “I loved being at the Paralympics and to win four medals meant so much to me.”
The year ended with Bethany being awarded the MBE. Now she has another gong - the 2016 Sports Person of the Year with a Disability at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.