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Natalie du Toit gets gold again

August 26 2002 at 09:24PM
Cape Times

By Kashiefa Ajam

The first Western Cape provincial honour was awarded to star swimmer Natalie du Toit on Monday for her unique and exceptional achievements.

Du Toit received the top award, the Western Cape Golden Cross, from Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who said she had gone “beyond gold and swam her way into the hearts of not only South Africans but the whole world”.

The young swimmer, whose career was cruelly interrupted when her lower leg had to be amputated after a scooter accident last year, is ranked among the top eight swimmers in South Africa.

‘Her magnificent achievements in Manchester reflect her determination in life to overcome adversity’

During the recent Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Du Toit won two gold medals in the Elite Athlete with a Disability (EAD) freestyle swimming events and broke no less than two world records.

She also won the inaugural David Dixon Award as the Outstanding Games Athlete and was chosen ahead of an Australian men’s swimmer who won six gold medals at the games.

“Natalie is indeed a remarkable person. At the age of 18, she was involved in an accident that would have stopped most people in their tracks.

“Her magnificent achievements in Manchester reflect her determination in life to overcome adversity and in the process inspire us all,” said Van Schalkwyk.

He said the Provincial Honours Act made provision for the recognition of individuals who have accomplished exceptional achievements or rendered remarkable meritorious service in the interests of the province.

“The Western Cape is the only province thus far to do so,” Van Schalkwyk said.

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SA’s disabled swimming sensation returns home

August 06 2002 at 02:39PM
Reuters

One-legged South African swimming sensation Natalie du Toit, who made history at the Commonwealth Games with her pioneering swim against her able-bodied peers, arrived home on Tuesday to a crowd of cheering supporters.

The 18-year old, named the outstanding athlete of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, won two gold medals as a disabled competitor, but drew spectators’ attention and admiration when she reached the 800m final against able-bodied athletes.

“Manchester was brilliant, the crowd was fantastic, but it is really great just to be back home,” she told reporters at the airport in between signing autographs for admiring supporters.

A crowd of about 100 people had gathered to greet returning South African athletes at the airport, with onlookers applauding and singing the nation’s sporting song, “Sho Sho Loza”.

Du Toit said she hoped her performance, which placed her last in the final but was only two seconds slower than her time in the 1999 Pan-Pacific championships, would help her mount a challenge for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

“It is going to help me get on and make the Olympics,” she said, adding that she did not want the motorcycling accident in which she lost part of her left leg last year to interfere with her swimming goals.

“I just want to be the same person as I was before the accident,” she said. “Hopefully I can go on and do something for disabled sport.”

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Swimming sensation already has new goals

August 06 2002 at 09:50PM
Cape Times

By Kevin McCallum

Before she boarded her flight to the Commonwealth Games about a month ago, a Johannesburg International Airport official looked at Natalie du Toit and tut-tutted.

“Ag shame,” he said. “There you are on the way to Manchester and you’re already limping.”

“You should have seen his face when I told him I had a false leg,” said Du Toit, back at Johannesburg International Airport on Tuesday. The official was nowhere in sight and her limp, if anything, was more pronounced, weighed down as she was by the two gold medals hanging around her neck.

Natalie is still getting used to walking with a prosthesis.

‘I’ve worked hard and I believe hard work pays off’

When she picked up her trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the Games on the closing night, she almost fell on the slippery steps.

Matric pupil Natalie is possibly the most famous disabled person in the world right now.

Make that part-time disabled, for she has yet to decide whether she is a disabled athlete or an able-bodied one.

She is off to swim in the African Championships in Cairo this weekend against the able-bodied.

Disabled Sport South Africa (Disa) are hoping to convince her to take part in both. The Olympics are her goal, the Paralympics a close second. To do both would be unique.

Natalie has become an almost reluctant role model and is gradually coming to terms with the weight that had been placed on her 18-year-old shoulders.

“I don’t like to see myself as a role model. If anything, I can show people they can also do it, that they must go out there and really try their best. I’ve worked hard and I believe hard work pays off,” said Du Toit.

Her immediate future is with those nasty matric finals. After that, maybe, a scholarship to a United States university where she would study a “BSc in human movement majoring in kinetics”.

She limped off into that future, gingerly walking down a staircase in Johannesburg International and through a tunnel of players from Banyana Banyana, the South African women’s football team, who wanted to acknowledge the path Du Toit walks so proudly.

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Natalie’s just outstanding

August 05 2002 at 12:19AM
Cape Times

Manchester – In an emotional ceremony, swimmer Natalie du Toit was presented with an award for the most outstanding athlete of the Commonwealth Games at the closing ceremony on Sunday night. This is the first time in the Games’s history that such an award was made to an athlete.

The 18-year-old, who lost part of her left leg in a motorcycling accident in 2001, won golds in the women’s multi-disability 50 and 100 metres freestyle events, but it was reaching the 800 metres final that gave her the most pleasure.

Du Toit made history with her pioneering swim against able-bodied swimmers. The swim earned her a rousing ovation from the capacity crowd.

“Natalie is a truly remarkable individual who deserves our full admiration,” said Mike Fennel, chairperson of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Made history with her pioneering swim

“Her achievements in Manchester reflect her determination in life – to overcome adversity and in the process inspire others, including her South African team-mates,” he said.

Du Toit was the South African team’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony on Sunday night.

South Africa had more reason to be proud, with nine golds, 20 silver and 17 bronze medals.

Roland Schoeman captured a gold medal in the 50m freestyle to add to Bob Donnely’s gold in the men’s singles bowls final.

Terence Parkin won silver in the 200m breastsroke while Charlene Wittstock, Sarah Poewe, Mandy Loots and Helene Muller took silver in the women’s 4×100 medley relay.

There was further silver in the women’s bowls pairs and the wheelchair table tennis. – Sapa

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I still cry about losing my leg, says Natalie
August 05 2002 at 06:30AM
Star

By Mark Beer in Manchester

South African swimming star Natalie du Toit, who was honoured with a Special Achievement Award at Sunday night’s closing ceremony of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, admits that she still cries at the thought of having lost her leg in a horrific accident 18 months ago.

“I do have my moments when I cry,” the 18-year-old Capetonian told BBC Sport on Sunday in what was her 16th interview of the day.

“I do get sad when I think about the accident and I tend to take it out on my coach (Karoly von Toros) a lot,” added the South African, who became the first disabled swimmer ever to contest an open final when she swam the 800m freestyle event during the Games last Friday night.

‘I do get sad when I think about the accident’

“But luckily Karoly and I have a good relationship,” she said. “We get on very well and he keeps on reminding me that I can still go for my dreams.”

The most ambitious of those has always been to make it to the 2004 Athens Olympics. “It’s a really big goal, but it has always been a part of my life,” explained Du Toit, who broke two world records and won two gold medals in EAD (Elite Athletes with a Disability) swimming last week.

“Even after the accident I wanted to go for my goals, to get on with my life again,” she added. “I’m just going to train real hard and see where it gets me… I hope to go a long way.” She admits, though, that it has not been easy. “I have had to be strong (mentally) and fight for what I believe in, and I think that having a lot of faith (in God) got me through quite well.”

Du Toit says she has nothing against the person who crashed into her while she was riding her motor scooter to a swim training session in Cape Town in February 2001.

“I believe the accident happened for a reason.” Normally, she says, she “hates the media”. “But while I have been here, it has all been so positive,” she added.

Normally, she says, she ‘hates the media’

“It is important for me to get the word out that you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it.” When she returns to South Africa with the rest of Team SA on Tuesday morning, it will be straight back to school for the remarkable Du Toit.

“I’m in my matric year and have exams coming up, but that won’t stop me from training harder than ever,” she laughed.

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Natalie heads home to a hero’s welcome

August 05 2002 at 10:05PM
Cape Times

By Gustav Thiel

Hundreds of people are expected to throng Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday afternoon to welcome swimmer Natalie du Toit home from the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Her matric class from Reddam House will be there to meet her at 3pm, as will her parents Dawid, 48, and Deirdre, 47, and her older brother, Andre, 21.

Du Toit was voted the most outstanding athlete in Manchester and was dubbed by British and South African media as the “darling of the Games” after winning gold medals in the multi-disability 50-metre and 100-metre freestyle events. But for Natalie her biggest achievement was making the 800m final for able-bodied swimmers.

Du Toit lost her lower left leg in a scooter accident in 2001 but returned to the pool within months. She has won international recognition for her efforts and her courage.

She will take a well-deserved rest

When Du Toit gets home, she will take a well-deserved rest with her parents in Southfield, then travel to Egypt to take part in a 5km open-water race down the Nile.

Mrs Du Toit said on Monday she was as proud of the way her daughter had handled herself as a woman standing on her own as she was of her victories.

“Natalie has always been very determined,” she said.

Mr Du Toit works as a foreman on site visits to South Africa’s Antarctic weather station, Sanae.

“It’s heavy to be away from the family so much and now Natalie is away quite often. But I think we are all doing well.”

The parents tell of a child who decided at a very young age to become a swimmer. She excelled at the sport and always took an interest in water polo, netball and playing the piano.

“Mostly she was interested in swimming,” Mr Du Toit said. “She had a dream of winning a scholarship to an American university, but her accident changed that.”

Referring to the woman who collided with Natalie’s scooter, Mr Du Toit said: “It would be nice if she could accept our invitation to visit us and talk to Natalie.”

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Super Natalie smashes second world record

August 02 2002 at 06:45PM
Quickwire

By Larry Lombaard

Manchester – Natalie du Toit, in a class of her own, broke her second world record for Elite Athletes with Disabilities (EAD) at the Manchester Commonwealth Games on Friday morning.

Du Toit clocked 1min 02,83sec in the 100m freestyle heats.

The athlete, who broke the EAD 50m freestyle world record Wednesday, was in line to swim the final on Friday night, then go for a good finish in the 800m freestyle open competition later in the evening.

Shooters David Dodds (silver in open full bore rifle) and Allan McDonald (bronze in 25m rapid fire pistol) brought South Africa’s medal total to 28 earlier Friday afternoon.

These were both shooters’ second medals of the Games.

The SA netball wrapped up their Games on a high note when they trounced Wales 71-27 for fifth overall position. – Sapa

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Standing ovation for Wonder Girl Natalie

August 02 2002 at 11:33PM
Quickwire

Manchester – Natalie du Toit, with two golden world Commonwealth Games records in disabled swimming and a finish in the 800m open freestyle, had the crowd on their feet at the Manchester Aquatic Centre on Friday night.

Du Toit trailed the 800m field that was led to gold by England’s Rebecca Cooke in 8min 28,54sec, but the standing ovation was for the courageous one-legged woman who finished eighth in 9:13,57sec.

“That was amazing,” said Du Toit who swam 1000m on Friday. “The crowd were fabulous. But I’m quite tired. It’s not easy to taper for the sprint and then do long distance.”

Du Toit captured the hearts of the crowd when, in a class of her own, she broke her second world record with a 1min 02,83sec in the EAD 100m freestyle heats in the morning session, then swam to gold in the evening.

No wonder Mancunians call her the Wonder Girl of South Africa

The Capetonian, who broke the EAD 50m freestyle world record Wednesday, was mobbed by the international media after leaving the pool and boosting South Africa’s medal standings to 32.

Within minutes of singing the national anthem on the podium after collecting her second gold medal of the Games in the 100m freestyle for Elite Athletes with Disabilities (EAD) leg-amputee Du Toit had returned to poolside to race the 800m freestyle.

No wonder Mancunians call her the Wonder Girl of South Africa. When she took to the water, she made history by becoming the first EAD athlete to compete in a Games open race.

“If I can do this to bring a bond together between disabled and able-bodies swimmers, and help swimming in that sense, then it’s a pleasure. I still want to continue competing in open competition.”

Mandy Loots was ecsatic after her silver in 59,68 behind Australia’s Petria Thomas (58,57) for the women’s 100m butterfly.

Two more medals are assured this weekend

“It was awesome. My first medal! I’ve waited a long, long time for this,” said Loots who made her Commonwealth Games debut eight years ago in Victoria when part of the medley relay team.

She swam 12th in the 100 and 200 fly at the Sydney Olympics.

“It’s been two Olympics and two Commonwealth Games. I cannot believe that I’ve finally got a medal. That was just off my best time. I’m just so happy to be making the podium.”

Ryk Neethling, silver medallist in the 1500m at Kuala Lumpur ’98 before going for the shorter distances, won bronze in the 100 freestyle against Aussie “Thorpedo” Ian Thorpe’s Games record 49,73.

Terence Parkin challenged strongly for third through the first three disciplines of the 400m individual medley won by Juston Norris of Australia (4:16,95) then conceded to sixth in the freestyle leg in 4:21,05.

South Africa – with seven gold, 13 silver and 12 bronze – are now only two shy of the 34 medals (nine gold, 11 silver, 14 bronze) they bagged at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

And two more medals are assured this weekend – the best bet being boxer Kwanele Zulu, who is within reach of a gold as he takes on Australian Daniel Geale in the welterweight final on Saturday.

The pair of Shaun Addinall and Gerry Baker have at least a bowls bronze guaranteed.

The South Africans beat Martin McHugh and Gary McCloy of Northern Ireland in their quarterfinal of the men’s pairs competition on Friday to advance to the semifinals.

The SA men’s hockey team are also in with a shout on Sunday, despite going down 3-1 to Australia in Friday’s semifinal.

South Africa were locked at 1-1 with Australia until they conceded a goal with 20 minutes to go. With a minute go they conceded an easy goal to finish 3-1 and play for bronze against Pakistan on Sunday, while Australia take on New Zealand for gold.

In the pool, Sarah Poewe (100m breaststroke), Charlene Whittstock (50m back), Brett Petersen (50m breast), Theo Verster (100m butterfly) and Gerhard Zandberg (100m back) all made it to the weekend’s finals.

In shooting, India’s Jaspal Rana won gold in the 25m standard pistol shooting event, beating South Africa’s Frikkie van Tonder (silver) and England’s Michael Gault (bronze).

David Dodds was narrowly edged out of top spot in the open bore rifle competition by David Calvert of Northern Ireland.

In the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event Allan McDonald came in third behind Canada’s Metodi Igorov.

Meanwhile, the SA netball team wrapped up their Games with a 71-27 victory over Wales, for fifth position, the Springbok sevens rugby outfit began their campaign with a 26-12 win over Tonga.

JP van Zyl, fifth in the 20km scratch race Thursday night, suffered drama that cost him a 30km points race medal when the steering column on his bicycle came loose with 24 laps and two sprint laps to go.

His support fixed the problem quickly and he fought his way back into the bunch to eventually surge for fifth.

He was so angry afterwards that he punched his bike. – Sapa

Soaking up the applause: “If I can do this to bring a bond together between disabled and able-bodies swimmers, and help swimming in that sense, then it’s a pleasure.” Photo: AP

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Golden girl Natalie adds to SA’s medal haul

August 02 2002 at 11:24PM
Quickwire

Manchester – South Africa’s Natalie du Toit won her second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Friday and was greeted with a standing ovation inside the Manchester Aquatic Centre.

The 18-year-old amputee swimmer from Cape Town lifted her country’s medals tally to 32 and – within a half-hour of winning gold for Elite Athletes with Disabilities (EAD) – Du Toit matched the best able-bodied swimmers in the open 800-metre freestyle.

Du Toit, who had her lower left leg amputated after an auto accident last year, made history in Manchester by competing in open and disabled events.

With two world records and two gold medals in the 50m and 100m EAD freestyle events, Du Toit finished eighth in the open 800m in 9min 13.59sec. Rebecca Cooke of England won the event in 8:28.54.

Swimmers coughed up two more medals for South Africa

Swimmers coughed up two more medals for South Africa as Mandy Loots won silver and Ryk Neethling bronze at the Manchester Aquatic Centre.

South Africa – with seven gold, 13 silver and 12 bronze – are now only two shy of the 34 medals (nine gold, 11 silver, 14 bronze) they bagged at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

And two more medals are assured this weekend – the best bet being boxer Kwanele Zulu, who is within reach of a gold as he takes on Australian Daniel Geale in the welterweight final on Saturday.

The pair of Shaun Addinall and Gerry Baker have at least a bowls bronze guaranteed.

The South Africans beat Martin McHugh and Gary McCloy of Northern Ireland in their quarterfinal of the men’s pairs competition on Friday to advance to the semifinals.

Two more medals are assured this weekend

The SA men’s hockey team are also in with a shout on Sunday, despite going down 3-1 to Australia in Friday’s semifinal.

South Africa will play off against Pakistan for the bronze medal, after New Zealand won their semifinal 7-1.

In the pool, Sarah Poewe (100m breaststroke), Charlene Whittstock (50m back), Brett Petersen (50m breast), Theo Verster (100m butterfly) and Gerhard Zandberg (100m back) all made it to the weekend’s finals.

Loots and Neethling’s latest swimming medals brought to five the number awarded to South Africa on Friday, with the shottists having weighed in with two silvers and a bronze in the afternoon.

Loots clocked 59.68 seconds in the 100-metre butterfly final behind Australia’s Petria Thomas (58.57) for her silverware in the pool, beating Canada’s Jennifer Button (60.22).

Thomas, a world champion at the 100 butterfly, powered out of the blocks and was never headed. She also won the 50m butterfly and a bronze in the 200m freestyle.

Neethling won bronze in the 100m freestyle behind Australians Ian Thorpe and Ashley Callus, with Thorpe taking his gold haul at the Games to five.

Thorpe won in 48.73sec, Callus took silver in 49.45 and Neethling grabbed bronze in 49.71.

In shooting, India’s Jaspal Rana won gold in the 25m standard pistol shooting event, beating South Africa’s Frikkie van Tonder (silver) and England’s Michael Gault (bronze).

David Dodds was narrowly edged out of top spot in the open bore rifle competition by David Calvert of Northern Ireland.

In the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event Allan McDonald came in third behind Canada’s Metodi Igorov.

While, the SA netball team wrapped up their Games with a 71-27 victory over Wales, for fifth position, the Springbok sevens rugby outfit began their campaign with a 26-12 win over Tonga. – Sapa

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SA’s golden Natalie qualifies for 800m final

August 01 2002 at 01:48PM
The Argus

Cape Town’s golden disabled swimmer Natalie du Toit qualified for the final of the able-bodied 800m freestyle with a gutsy swim on Thursday that made her a heroine of the Commonwealth Games.

The 18-year-old matric pupil powered her way into the hearts of the big crowd at the Manchester aquatic centre, where she made sporting history by become the first disabled swimmer to qualify for a final in the able-bodied section.

Du Toit, swimming in the second heat, finished fifth out of six swimmers, but was fast enough to reach Friday night’s final of the event – even though she lost her leg below the knee in a scooter accident last year.

In the heat, won by England’s Rebecca Cooke in 8min 33.31sec, Du Toit easily held off last-placed Roberta Callus for a place in the final.

Her time was 9min 12.14sec, way ahead of Callus’s 9:38.16.

It capped a wonderful 24 hours for the Reddam House girl, who last night added a sixth gold medal to South Africa’s total by winning the 50m multi-disability freestyle.

Earlier, in the heats of that event, she had set a world record of 29.53sec.

Four years ago, as a novice, Du Toit swam as an able-bodied athlete in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, reaching the B-final of the 800m freestyle.

On Thursday she said she was hoping to concentrate on the longer events. Her ultimate goal was the Olympics of 2004 in Athens.

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