Our 100m sprint king sets new world record

Cormac Murphy

MEET the Usain Bolt of the Paralympics -- and he's Irish.

Like a bolt of Jamaican lightning, Jason Smyth has set a new world record of 10.54 seconds in the 100m T13 event.

Smyth smashed the old world best in the competition's heats, on a day of gold medal glory for Ireland.

Swimmer Bethany Firth claimed Ireland's first medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games when she took gold in the women's 100m backstroke S14 final at the Aquatics Centre.

The 15-year-old's winning time of 1:08.93 in the pool last night was 1.4 seconds faster than the time she qualified with in the earlier heat.

Firth, who suffers an intellectual disability and is from County Down in Northern Ireland, won silver in the 100m backstroke event and reached the final of her two other events at last year's IPC European Swimming Championships in Berlin.

Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar said: "This is a fantastic result for Bethany and Team Ireland and I warmly congratulate her on her achievement."

He added: "She is the youngest member of the Irish Paralympic team and she has enjoyed a meteoric start to her Paralympic career -- winning gold in her event tonight and reaching the final of her two other events at last year's IPC European Swimming Championships in Berlin."

Meanwhile, Jason Smyth -- a training partner of US sprinter Tyson Gay -- will run in the final at 7.15pm tonight and is odds on to claim gold.

He is officially the fastest disabled runner alive and he holds the 100m and 200m Paralympic titles, and both world records.

He missed out on competing at the Olympics by a fraction of a second.

The 25-year-old from Derry only has 10pc vision and has been affected by Stargardt's disease from birth.

Gay, who won bronze in the Olympic 100 metres, has described Smyth's running style as one of the most fluent, natural strides he has ever seen.

Smyth became the first Paralympian to compete at the European Athletics Championships -- for able-bodied athletes -- qualifying for the semi-finals of the 100m.