SHE has won three global golds in as many nights but it was the heat of the battle to win 100m butterfly gold that got Alice Tai going.

The New Milton star scooped freestyle success by a margin of 2.31 seconds and won the backstroke final by a considerable eight-second differential.

But with 13-time Paralympic champion Jessica Long of the USA going great guns, Tai pulled out a Championship record 1:09.76 to be crowned a triple world champion.

The 20-year-old took greater satisfaction from pipping Long by 0.02secs in the butterfly than in her other two comfortable triumphs.

She said: "It was such a battle.

“Jess and I raced it really differently. I went out fast and came back, and kind of died.

"She went out slower but held pace. That proves what a great, experienced athlete she is. To pip her at the end is special. I didn't expect it at all!

"I enjoy the closer races. I'm such a racer. In training I love having people next to me and speed up when I'm not meant to. It's all fun.”

Tai is already the poster girl of the biggest ever World Championship in the sport and has captured hearts in the capital.

With a bulging CV which encompasses four golds at last summer’s European Championship in Dublin, the S8 athlete will be a hot prospect at next year’s Paralympics.

The former Bournemouth Collegiate School pupil has fond memories of the London Aquatics Centre having cheered on Britain’s best at London 2012 as part of an Inspiration programme.

"Going to London 2012 had such an effect on me,” she said.

"It's crucial. Getting a feel for an event of this scale before you've even been selected is such a good experience.

"To go from that to winning gold and hearing the national anthem, is crazy.”

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