First it’s the turn of the motivational speaker to talk: the Natalie du Toit many people like to think they know – the Paralympics swimming champion who’s living proof that the sky is the limit.
“I’ve achieved everything. There’s nothing more. It’s time for new kids on the block to take over,” she says about her decision to retire from swimming after this year’s Paralympic Games.
But later, quite unexpectedly, comes an admission. “Everybody thinks I’m a very positive person. I’m actually not. I’m dying inside.” Just like that, as if she can simply no longer suppress the truth.
Then she laughs it off with the familiar happy “Natalie laugh” everyone has seen on TV – the way she laughs when a sports minister honours her or another medal is put around her neck.
But it flashes across her face for just a second before it’s gone.
The floodgates have opened and for the first time she talks about the battle she’s fought behind the scenes for years, her poor self-image and the lonely life of a 15-time Paralympic medal winner.
Read more of Marida Fitzpatrick’s interview with Natalie in YOU 15 November 2012.