Paralympic gold medallist Bethany Firth has changed nationality to Great Britain, it has been confirmed.

The application was formally approved by the International Paralympic Committee today.

The 17-year-old was born in from Seaforde in County Down and won gold in the 100 metres backstroke final last year. 

A statement from Paralympics Ireland read: “It is always a moment of great pride for Team Ireland when the athletes in whom we have invested so much energy, time and training achieve such great results as those achieved by Bethany. 

“Bethany’s progress under the Paralympics Ireland High Performance Swimming Programme since joining us serves as a shining example of the potential within us all to achieve greatness. 

“Bethany was and is one of the success stories of London 2012 for Team Ireland winning as she did our first gold medal of the Games in the S14 100m backstroke final.

“As recently as August she brought home three silver medals from the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, a further indication of her immense talent, of her progress under the Paralympics Ireland system and we have no doubt that she would have delivered further success and been an exemplary role model for Team Ireland over the next three years and beyond.

“Ultimately this is a personal decision for Bethany and we in Team Ireland would like to express our gratitude to her for all that she has achieved in her time competing with Team Ireland and we wish her all the very best in the future.”