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Natalie bids Games farewell

October 11 2010 at 07:29am


natalie_oct 11Getty Images

Natalie Du Toit celebrates finishing the Women’s 50m Freestyle S9 Final in first place and wins the gold medal.

By Kevin McCallum

Natalie du Toit always knew that 2010 was going to be her last Commonwealth Games as she heads towards retirement in two years’ time, but that didn’t make her last race on Saturday any easier.

She will leave Delhi today headed for home with three gold medals to add to an impressive haul from a career that has transcended sport and made the gap between the able-bodied and disabled feel a lot narrower.

At the Dr SPM Aquatic Complex last week, she won the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and, on Saturday afternoon, the 100m butterfly.

There were tears in her eyes on the podium after the 50m free as she realised it would be the last time she would swim it.

She choked up again on Saturday as she sung the anthem and knew this would be her fourth and last Commonwealth Games.

“I was definitely emotional,” said Du Toit. “I’ve been swimming for 20 years and I always new I was going to stop when I turned 28. This is my last Commonwealth Games. It’s come pretty quickly, quicker than I expected.

“I wanted to go out with three golds. I’m not all that happy with the times I’ve done, but I’m very happy with the wins. The Commonwealth Games have been really special to me.

Du Toit made her debut for South Africa as a 14-year-old in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Then, after just missing out for selection to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, she lost a leg in an accident in 2001, but fought back and by 2002 was back at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, competing in both able-bodied and disabled races. She became the princess of the Paralympic pool in 2004 in Athens, and then in 2008 stunned the world by becoming the first disabled athlete to qualify for the Olympics.

She will take her leave of competitive swimming at the London Paralympics and Olympics in 2012.

“London will be my last race,” said Du Toit. “The Commonwealth Games are special to me. Missing my race in Kuala Lumpur and having all the negative publicity from everyone under the sun, going to Manchester and getting all that positive energy and publicity, then doing well in Melbourne and now here.

“It’s the perfect way to say goodbye. I’m sad, but happy. Life goes on, you know. Things change.”

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South Africa’s Du Toit completes golden treble

New Delhi: South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit on Saturday won the women’s 100m butterfly S9 event, taking her tally to three golds in her last Commonwealth Games.

The 26-year-old never looked under threat in the two lap race and finished well ahead of the field in 1:07.32. England’s Stephanie Millward won silver with Ellie Cole of Australia in bronze.

The win comes after world record holder Du Toit made the third successive defence of her 50m and 100m freestyle titles.

Du Toit, who lost her leg in a motorbike accident, is one of the world’s most well-known para-athletes and has dominated disabled swimming at the last two Commonwealth Games and Paralympics.

She has held the 50m and 100m freestyle Commonwealth title for elite athletes with a disability since Manchester in 2002, has 11 Paralympic gold medals and competed against able-bodied athletes in the Beijing Olympics.

She said this week that New Delhi would be her last Commonwealth Games and she would retire after the next Olympic Games in London in 2010.

Millward’s silver comes after second place in the 100m freestyle and bronze in the 50m freestyle. Cole won bronze in the 100m freestyle.


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More gold for Natalie
Thu, 07 Oct 2010 2:15

South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit on Thursday won her second gold of the Commonwealth Games, taking the women’s 100m freestyle S9 race.

The 26-year-old led from the front to come home in a new Games record of 1:02.36. England’s Stephanie Millward won bronze, with Ellie Cole of Australia in third.

Du Toit, who won the 50m freestyle S9 on Tuesday, lost her leg in a motorbike accident and is one of the world’s best-known para-athletes.

She has dominated disabled swimming at the last two Commonwealth Games and Paralympics.

She has held the 50m and 100m freestyle Commonwealth title for elite athletes with a disability since Manchester in 2002, has 11 Paralympic gold medals and competed against able-bodied athletes in the Beijing Olympics.

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Hat-trick for Natalie

Third 50m gold medal for SA para swimmer

Oct 5, 2010 11:58 PM | By KAMAL RAM


Natalie du Toit got her Commonwealth Games gold medal hat-trick in New Delhi last night.


quote ‘I knew it was my last race as a 50m freestyle swimmer – what a way to finish’ quote

She won the women’s S9 50m freestyle final for the third time, adding to her victories in the event at the Manchester Games in 2002 and at Melbourne in 2006. It was also her last race in that disabled class.

“I knew it was my last race as a 50m freestyle swimmer and what a way to finish – with a gold,” Du Toit said afterwards.

Du Toit has been one of the great performers at the Commonwealth Games. As an 18-year-old in Manchester, she won the admiration of the world and was named the most outstanding athlete of those Games.

Last night she had to dig deep to beat Australia’s Annabelle Williams. With a strong final 20m, she was able to catch Williams close to the wall, winning in 29.17sec. The time was 0.13sec off the world record that Du Toit holds.

“Being here I realise what a long way I’ve come,” said Du Toit. “I attended my first Commonwealth Games in 1998 but was disqualified (as a 14-year-old) after I didn’t make my starting time.”

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Best start to Commonwealth Games – Natalie

October 5 2010 at 03:12pm
By Kevin McCallum


Natalie_medalGetty Images

Natalie du Toit won South Africa’s second gold medal in the pool after coming from behind to win the 50m freestyle in the S9 category.

Natalie du Toit took South Africa’s second gold medal of the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday with a trademark come-from-behind victory in the 50-metres freestyle.

It was South Africa’s third medal of the Games, following on Monday’s gold in the 200m butterfly and the bronze earned by the 4x100m freestyle relay team of Roland Schoeman, Graeme Moore, Gideon Louw and Darian Townsend. Du Toit was the overwhelming favourite to win on Tuesday, but with one leg she is always going to be slow out of the blocks and her 29.17secs win, a Commonwealth Games record, was just enough to pip Australia’s Annabelle Williams (29.42) and England’s Stephanie Millard (29.69).

“I’m happy to start these Games that way, what with these being my last Commonwealth Games,” said Du Toit, who will retire from competition after the London Olympics in 2012. “I always struggle to start quickly and knew I had to put in a big effort in the final 25 metres. The other girls in the S9 class are getting quicker, which is good for the sport.”

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Golden-girl Natalie
05 October 2010, 19:31

Swimmer Natalie du Toit won South Africa’s second gold of the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday in her last race as an S9 freestyler.

“I knew it was my last race as a 50m freestyle (S9) swimmer and what a way to finish with a gold,” an emotional Du Toit said afterwards.

“Being here, I realise what a long way I’ve come. I attended my first Commonwealth Games in 1998 but was DQ’d (as a 14-year-old) after I didn’t make my starting time.”

On Tuesday, Du Toit had to dig deep to overhaul the stubborn Australian Annabelle Williams, with a strong final 20m allowing her to catch her rival close to the wall before touching in 29.17sec — 0.13 sec off her world record.

The gold adds to those she won in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006.

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Du Toit looks to end career on top

05 October 2010, 07:19

South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit on Tuesday said she wants to bow out of the Commonwealth Games on top, as she looks towards retirement after the next Olympics.

The 26-year-old athlete easily won her 50m freestyle S9 heat in New Delhi ahead of Australia’s Annabelle Williams and Stephanie Millward of England. All three look virtual medal certainties in Tuesday afternoon’s final.

“I definitely want to make an impression, seeing as it’s my last Commonwealth Games, so I want to make it count,” she told reporters after the race, which she said started abruptly, taking competitors by surprise.

“We were all just standing there chatting, then suddenly we got the word to get up on the blocks and go,” she added.

Asked about her future, she said: “I will retire after London (2012), so I want to go out with the best results possible.”

Du Toit, who lost her leg in a motorbike accident, is one of the world’s most well-known para-athletes and has dominated disabled swimming at the last two Commonwealth Games and Paralympics.

She has held the 50m and 100m freestyle Commonwealth title for elite athletes with a disability since Manchester in 2002, has 11 Paralympic gold medals and competed against able-bodied athletes in the Beijing Olympics.

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