Truro’s Suzanna Hext put a number of tough years behind her to win her first World Para-Swimming Championship title on Monday.

The multi-talented Hext, who is also an equestrian international, claimed gold in the women’s S5 freestyle event on the opening day of the championships in Manchester.

The 34 year-old, who was in hospital just two days before the event, was seeded second for the one length ‘splash and dash’ following a solid showing in the heats.

But she showed her class in the final to swim a new personal best time of 36.71 seconds and beat Ukraine’s Iryna Poida and China’s Lu Dong for the gold.

“It was an honour to get the Great Britain team going”, said Hext after she took the first medal of the competition for Great Britain.

“Hopefully that’s the first of many to come as it’s a very exciting week ahead. 

“It’s my first time being a world champion and I’m feeling absolutely blown away at the moment as it feels surreal and I’m just trying to take it all in. The last few years have been tough, but it’s made me resilient and you have to learn to rise above it and adapt. 

“I love what I do and the team around us, my coach, British Swimming, my family and friends – without them this wouldn’t be possible. To come away with this gold medal isn’t for me really, it’s for everyone who has helped me on the journey.”

Hext, who was paralysed in a horse riding accident in 2012, and has spent a lot of time in hospital in the last few years with repeated infections and asthma attacks and she has also had cochlear impacts surgically fitted so she can hear after being born with a hearing impairment which deteriorated over the years.