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Courageous Du Toit carries flag

15 Mar 06 00:40
Natalie Du Toit will be carrying South Africa's flag at the Opening Ceremony.

Natalie Du Toit will be carrying
South Africa's flag at the
Opening Ceremony.

Disabled South African Swimmer Natalie Du Toit has been chosen as South Africa's flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony.

Having competed at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998 as an able bodied athlete at the age of 14, Du Toit, lost her leg in a motorcycle accident on her way home from school in 2001.

Despite this setback, she was determined to compete at the Manchester Games both as an able bodied and disabled competitor just to prove it could be done.

She achieved her goal, swimming into a creditable eighth place in the able bodied 800m Freestyle, and winning gold in the 50 and 100m Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD) events.

Du Toit also won the prestigious title of Athlete of The Games, an award presented to her by the Queen.

“Before the Manchester Games people would notice me as a person with a missing leg, but now they notice me because of my achievements and that is a wonderful thing, because I am no worse an athlete for having lost my leg,” said Du Toit.

Despite not competing since April last year, 22-year-old Du Toit arrives in Melbourne with a positive outlook but is still anxious about competing in Melbourne.

“I haven’t had the time to compete” she said.

“I arise at 4:30am to put in the necessary laps to maintain fitness, but at the same time I’m studying for a diploma in Sports Management as well as doing motivational speaking.”

Her focus is now on retaining the titles she eagerly sought and won in Manchester, and breaking her own world record. Her other goal is to qualify for the next Olympics.

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