History was made in Beijing in 2008 when South Africa’s Natalie du Toit became the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics, where she finished 16th in the 10km open water swim. She is one of only two athletes to have competed in both the Olympic Games AND the Paralympic Games. In the Paralympics, she became the toast of South Africa after winning five gold medals.
In 2009, she kept up her remarkable performances and continued to dominate able-bodied and disabled swimming in South Africa. She also managed to break her goal in swimming, winning the 10km FINA women’s swim in under 1hr 57mins in Dubai. In December she was presented with the order of ‘Ikhamanga In Gold’, by President Zuma, the highest honour any South African athlete can receive.
Natalie has been competing internationally in swimming since 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 goal of competing in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which she achieved.
Swimming without the aid of a prosthetic limb, Natalie continued to set new benchmarks for swimmers with a disability by winning numerous events and setting ground-breaking South African records.