Natalie Du Toit is not any different. In fact, she refers to herself as an ordinary person that just sets goals and works hard to achieve them. In the eyes of many, she may be different, but in the real sense, she is the same with everyone else. Natalie has extraordinary potential which is what sets her apart from the rest.
Having begun her international swimming career at the age of 14 years, everything seemed perfect. Nothing would have prepared her for the accident that would mean ending her career for life. The crushing and devastating Natalie Du Toit accident was one that many would have succumbed to an failed to get over. She, however, persevered and got through the toughest periods of her life. Below is her story.
Natalie Du Toit biography
Anyone that goes though Afrikaans YouTube story about perseverance is likely to come across her story online. Natalie is a hero to many because of the mere fact that she was able to overcome an experience that was meant to crush her. What she did is something that very many people would not master.
Natalie may be currently known as the South African Paralympic gold medalist with an amazing story. Many people remember her from her amazing effort that saw her win the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. This made her stand out as the most inspiring and greatest disabled athlete of all time.
Natalie was born in Cape Town on 29 January 1984. She has often competed alongside able bodied athletes. Her background shows that she is from a working-class environment, which is what explains her stubborn determination The mother is a receptionist while her father is a foreman. She is also known to have an elder brother.
Career progression and story
Du Toit rose to stardom at a young age. When she was just 14 years old, she participated and won a variety of national age group records for different a mixed events, not to mention that he competed in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games of 1998. At the age of 16, two years later, she almost qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics in three events. These were indicators that her future glory was imminent.
Unfortunately, in 2001 at the age of 17 years, this dream was threatened when she was hit by a reckless driver who bumped into her scooter when she was riding back from swimming practice. The driver drove into her leg. While every effort was made to save her legs, because of the career implications they would have, it was not redeemable and as such, she was amputated from the knees downwards. While this would mean the end of the road for many people, she was determined to thrive and achieve her goals.
A few months after leaving the hospital, the determined sportswoman was back to the pool. A year later she qualified as the first disabled athlete in an able-bodied category. She went on to win the multi-disability 50m freestyle as well as the multi-disability 100m freestyle in the world record time at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. This was not surprising as she got the first David Dixon Award for Outstanding Athlete of the Manchester Commonwealth Games. You may also want to know that she swims without the aid of a prosthetic limb.
She completed her school education at the Reddam House in Cape Town. She continued her education by pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Cape Town. Her major was in Genetics and Physiology. Even though her challenges were massive, Du Toit proved to many that she is an ambitious South African with a big dream.
In addition to the numerous South African sports awards that include the Sportswoman of the Year in 1984; she has also won a multitude of medals around the globe. These are for both the open category as well as several disabled swimming events. As if her achievements are not enough, she is currently studying sports management through the ETA (ExerciseTeachersAcademy).
In 2003, she proved to the world that nothing would stop her when she competed against able-bodied swimmers and still won the gold medal in the 800 metres freestyle when she competed at the All-Africa Games. She also won a silver medal in the 800 metres freestyle and scoped a bronze in the 400 metres freestyle when she took part in the Afro-Asian Games. In 2004, she was voted 48th in the Top 100 Great South Africans by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Natalie Du Toit’s major sporting achievements
Over the years, Natalie has achieved a lot in her career. Some of the most notable achievements and awards include:
- 50 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2002)
- 100 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2002)
- David Dixon Award for outstanding athlete – Commonwealth Games (2002)
- 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)
- 100 m S9 backstroke swimming silver medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 50 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 100 m S9 butterfly swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 100 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 200m SM9 individual medley swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 400 m S9 freestyle swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2004)
- 3 Gold Medals Paralympic World Championships Manchester (2005)
- 100 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2006)
- 50 m freestyle swimming EAD (multi-disability) gold – Commonwealth Games (2006)
- In 2006 Du Toit also won six gold medals at the fourth IPC World Swimming Championships
- 100 m S9 butterfly swimming gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
- 50 m S9 freestyle gold medal (WR 29.52 seconds) – Paralympics (2008)
- 100 m S9 freestyle gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
- 400 m S9 freestyle gold medal (WR 4:28.09) – Paralympics (2008)
- 200 metres S9 individual medley gold medal – Paralympics (2008)
- Qualified for the Olympics in 2008 making it as the first amputee swimmer to ever do so
Hers has been an impressive journey of achievement after another. Even without legs in Afrikaans history, she rose to be a world-renowned swimmer which is no small fete.
It is not possible to have gone through the things she has and not come up with a few philosophies and quotes that kept her going. Check out some of the quotes that have been associated with her.
- "It doesn't matter if you look different. You're still the same as everybody else because you have the same dream" ("Natalie Du Toit").
- "You have to work hard for what you want to achieve and you have to set goals and dreams and really go for them."
- Even when bad things happen you have to try to use those bad things in a positive manner and really just take the positive out of it.
- I just want to be myself and go for my own dreams and goals.
- Swimming is my passion and something that I love. Going out there in the water, it feels as if there's nothing wrong with me. I go out there and train as hard as anybody else. I have the same dreams, the same goals. It doesn't matter if you look different. You're still the same as everybody else because you have the same dream.
- If I'm able to go out there and achieve a dream, then anybody can do it.
- I don't think of myself as being disabled, or able-bodied.
- I am always late because people stop me for autographs and say hi.
- It's been a dream for me since I was six years old to go to the Olympic Games and to finally have that dream realized is something massive for me.
Natalie Du Toit is one of the most amazing personalities around. She has weathered a lot of storms just to get to where she is today. Her story will inspire anyone that is tempted to give up.