Natalie du Toit

Swimmer

In March, Natalie du Toit was honoured at the Laureus
World Sports Awards during a colourful ceremony
in Abu Dhabi � quite a feat considering that she was
crowned alongside the Brawn GP formula team who are
the reigning motor racing championships.
Also nominated for this prestigious award were the
current rugby world champions, the Springboks, who,
unlike the versatile swimmer, did not win. The Laureus
awards are bestowed on the greatest sportsmen and
women in the world, and the event is broadcast live
to more than 100 countries after a vigorous selection
process that involves 46 judges.
The 25-year-old swimmer received the prize in
recognition of the barriers she has broken between the
able-bodied and the disabled, because she often races in
both categories.
But Du Toit is most famous for her achievements
at the Beijing Olympics, where she not only won gold
medals in all fi ve races in which she took part but
was also the country's fl ag bearer at the games. The
swimming sensation entered the 100m butterfl y, 200m
individual medley, 50m freestyle, 100 freestyle and 400m
freestyle. Not surprisingly, she won the Whang Youn Dai
Achievement award at the conclusion of the games.
She has continued to swim in 5km and 10km
marathons, overcoming obstacles not encountered by
her able-bodied rivals. Du Toit, who is an accomplished
and inspirational spokeswoman, has changed the lives
of many aspiring individuals who aren't necessarily
even swimmers.
In 2002, awarding her the Western Cape Golden Cross,
then-Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk
summed up her achievements, saying she had gone
"beyond gold and swam her way into the hearts of not
only South Africans but the whole world�.
�Phathisani Moyo

Lunch spot: Fournos, Woodmead, Johannesburg