Natalie du Toit

When Natalie du Toit retired from competitive swimming at the Paralympics last year, she did so in true champion style, coming second in her final event, bringing her tally of Paralympics medals to 15, 13 of them gold. Add to that eight Commonwealth Games gold medals, a Laureus award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and you soon understand why the 28-year-old Capetonian is lauded and admired the world over. Du Toit swam competitively even before she lost her leg in a car accident when she was 14. She returned to the pool three months after the accident to embark on a journey that would mould her into a global icon. “I’m fortunate that I was able to win medals, but it’s not about medals; it was a goal and a dream which I worked hard towards achieving … it’s great to be able to retire and know there’s nothing more I can achieve in the pool.” — Fatima Asmal