Natalie du Toit

 “Be everything you want to be!”

“It’s important to swim your own race and not some-one else’s, and that is exactly what this remarkable South African swimmer has been doing. Having competed at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998 as an able bodied athlete at the age of 14, she lost her leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Despite this setback, she was determined to compete at the Manchester Games both as an able bodied and disabled competitor just to prove it could be done. She achieved her goal, swimming into a creditable eighth place in the able bodied 800m Freestyle, and winning gold in the 50 and 100m Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD) events. Since then, Natalie has become one of the most successful disabled athletes of all times and an inspiration to many.

I have always had a dream to take part in an Olympic Games, and losing my leg didn’t change anything,” she says. Life was calling. The pool was calling. “I just wanted to get back to life again – swimming four hours a day – and I wanted to be able to walk again so that I would be able to do things by myself”.

Prior to the accident, a coach gave Du Toit an unattributed poem. She rediscovered it after her accident. Before, it didn’t mean much. Now, a laminated copy hangs on her wall, and she can probably recite it in her sleep:

The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals;
The tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for.
It is not a disgrace not to reach for the stars,
But it is a disgrace not to have stars to reach for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In August 2002 she was awarded the Western Cape Golden Cross. During the award ceremony Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk said she had gone “beyond gold and swam her way into the hearts of not only South Africans but the whole world”.

On 10 March, 2010, she was awarded the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for “breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport”.

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           Major sporting achievements

  • 50 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
  • 400 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
  • 200 m SM9 individual medley swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
  • 100 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
  • 100 m S9 butterfly swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
  • 100 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2006)
  • 50 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2006)
  • 100 m S9 backstroke swimming silver medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 100 m S9 butterfly swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 100 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 200 m SM9 individual medley swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 400 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 50 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
  • 800 m freestyle swimming gold medal – All-Africa Games (2003)
  • 800 m freestyle swimming silver medal – Afro-Asian Games (2003)
  • 400 m freestyle swimming bronze medal – Afro-Asian Games (2003)”

Source: http://www.nataliedutoit.com/

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