Natalie not at very best

2008-09-02 18:57
Johannesburg - Circumstances are against her, but it would be no surprise if Natalie du Toit came home with a handful of medals from the Beijing Paralympic Games from September 6 to 17.

Du Toit is a member of the South African team looking to better the 35 medals won at Athens four years ago, where the amputee swimmer's personal haul was five gold and a silver.

DStv subscribers will be treated to comprehensive live coverage of the Games, including a daily hour-long highlights package. On SuperSport Gold (channel 206 on DStv).

In an exclusive interview from Beijing with SuperSport on Tuesday, Du Toit said her preparation had been far from ideal but, in keeping with her optimistic nature, she still hoped to bring back "five medals...hopefully all gold."

She is competing in the five events (50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle) in which she won gold in Athens and has elected this year to drop the 100m backstroke (she won silver in that event in 2004).

"One of the disadvantages in Beijing is the fact that there are so many new people competing, so I don't know who I am up against. My early training wasn't ideal because when we looked for a pool to do speedwork we could only find a 25m pool that was waist deep," said Du Toit.

More remarkable

"I have been with the team since they arrived on Sunday and the facilities for training are now a lot better. I haven't been pulling water like I should in the last couple of days, but I'll pick it up in the next day or two."

Do Toit's swimming exploits are more remarkable when considering that she is not a natural sprinter, something she is quick to acknowledge.

"I wasn't born with speed genes so I find it really tough in the shorter races. I reckon the 50m freestyle will be my toughest race at the Games but I am feeling positive and will be up for it."

One of team South Africa's strong points is the incredible spirit and Du Toit says this year is no different.

"I was so excited to see the team when they arrived that I waited up for them until they got here at midnight. The spirit is very, very good. We are staying in apartments so you see everyone coming and going all the time, which is nicer than being spread out. Also, the swimming team has meals together and the atmosphere is brilliant."

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