Swimmer Natalie du Toit Exercises Perseverance & Perspective
February 12, 2014 by VIA Contributor ·
It was 2001. Not even a full year had passed since Natalie du Toit narrowly missed qualifying as part of the South African team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics when a scooter accident on the way home from swimming practice forever changed how she got around. But, it did nothing to dampen her aspirations for competing against the world’s most elite athletes.
Natalie’s left leg was amputated below her knee. It was an experience that was to become just another stepping stone on her journey. Instead of giving up, her determination became unconquerable.
She still had a dream. She still had a drive. She still had ability. She just needed to shift how she pursued her conquest.
To make up for the loss of speed caused by having only one leg, Natalie switched from 200m and 400m individual medley to 800m and 1500m freestyle.
“There’s really no line between able-bodied and disabled swimming … I treat both of them the same. They’re your opponents and you’ve got to race the way you train. It is important to swim your own race and not someone else’s,” she told SouthAfrica.info.
At her first major event since the accident – the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England – she was presented with the first David Dixon award for the Outstanding Athlete of the Games. She was 18. The next year she won Gold in the 800m freestyle at the All-Africa Games and medaled in the Afro-Asian Games. By 2004, she represented her country at the Paralympic Games, earning five gold medals and a silver medal.
With the sheer determination that sets all world class athletes apart, she finally achieved her dream. In 2008, Natalie became the first amputee in over a century to participate in the Olympics and finished 16th.
South Africa gave her its highest honor, the Oder of Ikhamanga in Gold, “for her exceptional achievements in swimming.”
How have your strengths of perseverance and perspective helped you to conquer your dreams? Let us know in a comment.
Tags: 2002 Commonwealth Games, 2008 Olympics, amputee athlete, Natalie du Point, Olympic swimmer, paralympic swimmer, perseverance, perspective, quote by Natalie du Point, South Africa Oder of Ikhamanga in Gold