100 World Class South Africans: Natalie du Toit

2013-05-15 12:00

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Swimming her way into hearts and history

Our Paralympic athletes are a phenomenal bunch, and none more so than Natalie du Toit.

It took her just a year after her left leg was amputated through the knee to win gold, and for a decade she continued to rake in medals at the Paralympic and Commonwealth Games – and six at one World Championships alone.

She is one of the most successful disabled athletes of all time, and the South African with by far the highest Paralympic/Olympic medal tally (on her retirement last year, she had 13 golds and two silvers).

Du Toit made history in 2002 when she swam in the able-bodied 800m freestyle final at the Commonwealth Games; in Beijing in 2008, she was the first amputee in over 100 years to compete in the Olympics, in the 10km open-water swim.

In 2010 Du Toit was named Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for ‘breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport’.

Oscar may have got all the attention, but Natalie did it all before he did, in her own sweet, generous way.

She’s well-known for her charity work, but her new passion is anti-doping – she is now on the board of the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport.

» This series is supported by Play Your Part, which is a nationwide campaign to inspire and celebrate active citizenship. Each South African is encouraged to offer their time, money, skills or goods to make a collective difference to the lives of those in their communities. Start following @PlayYourPart

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