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Natalie du Toit

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Natalie du Toit is a personable ambassador of the sport and one of the most renowned Paralympic athletes of all time
Natalie du Toit, a finalist in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Natalie du Toit MBE (born 29 January 1984) is a South African pool and open water swimmer. She represented South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the women's Olympic 10K Marathon Swim where she finished 16th, the only amputee to make an Olympic final. She is also known for the gold medals she won at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Games and the inspirational life she leads.

Early life[edit]

du Toit was born in Cape Town, South Africa and attended Wynberg Girls' High School. She began competing internationally in swimming at the age of 14. In February 2001 her left leg was amputated at the knee after she was hit by a car while riding her scooter back to school after swimming practice. Three months later, before she had started walking again, she was back in the pool with the intention of competing in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Du Toit 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 degree at the University of Cape Town, specializing in genetics and physiology. In her free time she does motivational speaking.

Swimming Career[edit]

du Toit first competed internationally at the age of 14, when she took part in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. During the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, du Toit, who was then 18 years old, won both the multi-disability 50 m freestyle and the multi-disability 100 m freestyle in world record time. She also made sporting history by qualifying for the 800 m 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, du Toit won gold in the 800 metres freestyle at the All-Africa Games as well as silver in the 800 meter freestyle and bronze in the 400 meter freestyle at the Afro-Asian Games.

Olympic Experiences[edit]

She narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic Games 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 Sports Awards of the Year 2004 with Disability Award. At the 2006 Commonwealth Games she repeated her previous performance by winning the same two golds as she had in Manchester. In 2006 du Toit won six gold medals at the fourth IPC World Swimming Championships.

On 3 May 2008, du Toit dramatically qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after finishing fourth in the 10 km marathon swim at the 2008 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Sevilla, Spain. Her time was only 5.1 seconds off the winner in a race that made its first Olympic appearance in Beijing. She also took part in the 2008 Summer Paralympics, winning 5 gold medals.

2008 Beijing Olympic Games Women's Results[edit]

Gold: Larisa Ilchenko (Russia) 1:59:27.7
Silver: Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain) 1:59:29.2
Bronze: Cassandra Patten (Great Britain) 1:59:31.0
4. Angela Maurer (Germany) 1:59:31.9
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:59:36.8
6. Swann Oberson (Switzerland) 1:59:36.9
7. Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) 1:59:37.4
8. Jana Pechanová (Czech Republic) 1:59:39.7
9. Andreína del Valle Pinto Pérez (Venezuela) 1:59:40.0
10. Martina Grimaldi (Italy) 1:59:40.7
11. Marianna Lymperta (Greece) 1:59:42.3
12. Teja Zupan (Slovenia) 1:59:43.7
13. Yurema Requena (Spain) 1:59:46.9
14. Edith van Dijk (Netherlands) 2:00:02.8
15. Melissa Gorman (Australia) 2:00:33.6
16. Natalie du Toit South Africa 2:00:49.9
17. Daniela Inácio (Portugal) 2:00:59.0
18. Eva Berglund (Sweden) 2:01:05.0
19. Fang Yanqiao (China) 2:01:07.9
20. Imelda Martínez (Mexico) 2:01:07.9
21. Aurelie Muller (France) 2:02:04.1
22. Chloe Sutton (United States) 2:02:13.6
23. Natalya Samorodina (Ukraine) 2:10:41.6
24. Antonella Bogarin (Argentina) 2:11:35.9
Kristel Köbrich (Chile) DNF

2008 Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremonies[edit]

South Africa's Olympic Committee chose du Toit to carry the flag of South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, making her the first athlete to carry a flag in both Olympics and 2008 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony in a single year.

Major Sporting Achievements[edit]

  • 100 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal - Commonwealth Games (2010)
  • 100 m S9 butterfly swimming gold medal - Commonwealth Games (2010)
  • 50 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal - Commonwealth Games (2010)
  • 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)
  • David Dixon Award for outstanding athlete – Commonwealth Games (2002)
  • 100 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2002)
  • 50 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold - Commonwealth Games (2002)

Honours[edit]

Du Toit was presented with the first David Dixon award for the Outstanding Athlete of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the closing ceremony. She carried the South African flag at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, making her the only person in history to have carried her country's flag at both events.

After the 2008 Paralympics she was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, which is presented at every Paralympic Games to one male and one female who best exemplifies the spirit of the Games and inspires and excites the world. Also in 2008, she received the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) Youth Leadership Award at the European Parliament in Brussels.

In 2009, Du Toit was presented with the Order of Ikhamanga in gold by President Jacob Zuma. The award is made to South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport. Gold is the highest level, followed by silver and bronze.

In 2010, she was named the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.

In 2013, she received an honorary MBE awarded by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex at a ceremony in Pretoria in October.

Video[edit]

World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women[edit]

She was named to the list of 2015 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women[edit]

She was named to the list of 2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association. The women are listed below, alphabetically by last name:

1. Patti Bauernfeind, marathon/channel/relay swimmer from the USA
2. Carina Bruwer, marathon/channel/charity event swimmer from South Africa
3. Charlotte Brynn, marathon/channel/ice swimmer and coach from New Zealand/USA
4. Jessie Campbell, ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
5. Kimberley Chambers, marathon/channel/extreme/cross-border swimmer from New Zealand/USA
6. Devon Clifford, marathon/channel/open water swimmer from the USA
7. Jackie Cobell, channel/extreme/ice swimmer from Great Britain
8. Lorna Cochran, open water swimmer from South Africa
9. Olive Conroy, ice/winter swimmer from Ireland
10. Anna DeLozier, ice/winter swimmer from the USA
11. Beth French, channel swimmer from Great Britain
12. Elizabeth Fry, marathon/channel swimmer and event organizer from USA
13. Pat Gallant-Charette, channel/marathon swimmer from the USA
14. Pilar Geijo, professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
15. Ines Hahn, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Germany
16. Jessi Harewicz, marathon/channel swimmer from Canada
17. Mariel Hawley Dávila, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
18. Bárbara Hernández Huerta, winter/extreme swimmer from Chile
19. Bridgette Hobart, event organizer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
20. Elaine Howley, marathon/charity/ice swimmer and writer from the USA
21. Linda Kaiser, channel swimmer, advisor and administrator from the USA
22. Lori King, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
23. Tita Llorens, marathon/channel swimmer from Spain
24. Marcy MacDonald, DPM, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
25. Elina Makïnen, ice/winter swimmer from Finland
26. Angela Maurer, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from Germany
27. Chloë McCardel, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Australia
28. Tiffany McQueen, ocean/marathon swimmer from the USA
29. Sally Minty-Gravett, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Great Britain (Jersey)
30. Jaimie Monahan, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
31. Nuala Moore, marathon/ice swimmer, second, author and lecturer from Ireland
32. Victoria Mori, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
33. Tina Neill, marathon/channel/backstroker/extreme relay swimmer from the USA
34. Anna-Carin Nordin, Oceans Seven/ice swimmer from Sweden
35. Renata Nováková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
36. Magda Okurková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
37. Penny Palfrey, channel/marathon/extreme swimmer from Australia
38. Ranie Pearce, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
39. Cheryl Reinke, marathon swimmer from the USA
40. Charlotte Samuels, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
41. Susan Simmons, marathon swimmer with Multiple Sclerosis from Canada
42. Kate Steels-Fryatt, polar ice miler and ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
43. Sarah Thomas, marathon/extreme swimmer from the USA
44. Nora Toledano Cadena, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
45. Natalie du Toit, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from South Africa
46. Wendy Trehiou, marathon/channel swimmer from Great Britain (Jersey)
47. Wendy Van De Sompele, marathon swimmer and administrator from the USA
48. Samantha Whelpton, winter/ice swimmer from South Africa
49. Sabrina Wiedmer, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from Switzerland
50. Julia Wittig, ice/winter swimmer from Germany

External links[edit]