Thursday, August 21, 2008

Natalie Du Toit - A Very Special Sportswoman Who Should Be Olympian Of The Year

Thanks, Wikipedia.

I was very moved to see Natalie Du Toit emerge almost victorious in the 10,000m swim at the on-going Beijing Olympics.

She only has one leg, lost to a horrifying accident, yet she’s a super swimmer and super sportswoman.

She’s the personification of the human spirit and the Olympic spirit and she deserves to be the Olympian Of The Year.

She is only one of two Dutch South Africans I truly admire, the other being Charlize Theron.

[Both super women are of Dutch and French South African ancestry. I cannot confirm if they have Cape Malay ancestry too]

Her iron determination to excel in the Games, despite her physical handicap, has so moved me that I hereby declare her very existence and spirit sufficient compensation to cleanse all White South Africans of their sins of enslaving the indigenous Black South Africans led by Nelson Mandela and later Thabo Mbeki.

God bless you always, Natalie. You are the greatest.

Natalie, who was born on January 29, 1984 in Cape Town is best known for the gold medals she won at the 2004 Paralympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games.

She qualified to compete at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, becoming the first female amputee swimmer ever to qualify for the Olympics.

She ended up 16th in a field of 24 in the 10,000m swim.

Natalie has been competing internationally in swimming since the age of 14.

She hails from a working-class background and credits it with giving her a strong, fighting spirit. Her mother Deidre is a receptionist and her father David is a foreman. She also has an older brother Andre.

The family’s pet dogs add to her serious, no-nonsense attitude - they are Binga, a boxer and Storm, a rottweiler.

In February 2001 her left leg was amputated at the knee after a scooter accident on her way back to school after swimming practice.

Three months later, before she started walking again, she was back in the pool with the intention of competing in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Natalie swims without the aid of a prosthetic limb.

She completed her scholastic education at the Reddam House in Cape Town after which she studied for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Cape Town, specialising in genetics and physiology.

In her free time she does motivational speaking. She is a source of inspiration to millions of South Africans and has been hailed as a national icon by Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

Natalie was voted 48th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004 by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Natalie’s first international competition was the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

During the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, she won both the multi-disability 50m freestyle and the multi-disability 100m freestyle in world record time.

She also made sporting history by qualifying for the 800m able-bodied freestyle final - the first time that an athlete with a disability had qualified for the final of an able-bodied event.

At the closing of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, she was presented with the first David Dixon Award for Outstanding Athlete of the Games.

In 2003, competing against able-bodied swimmers, she won gold in the 800 metres freestyle at the All-Africa Games as well as silver in the 800 metres freestyle and bronze in the 400 metres freestyle at the Afro-Asian Games.

She narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics in Athens in 2004, but during the Paralympics that were held in the same city, she won one silver and five gold medals.

In the same year, her courage and achievements were acknowledged with a nomination for the Laureus World Sportsperson Of The Year With Disability Award 2004.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games she repeated her previous performance by winning the same two golds she had in Manchester.

In 2006 she also won six gold medals at the fourth IPC World Swimming Championships, finishing third overall in a race which included 36 males and 20 females.

In May 2008, she qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after finishing fourth in the 10km open water race at the Open Water World Championship in Seville, Spain.

South Africa's Olympic Committee chose her to carry its national flag at the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, making her the first disabled athlete to have this honour in an able-bodied Olympics.

In an interview with South African journalist P. H. Mullen, she said that one of her coaches gave her an inspiring poem which reads:

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.