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Resource id #4 Natalie is a very special athlete - Volume 1 Issue 5: Disability News and Information Service for India

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Volume 1 Issue 5 - November 01, 2003

Natalie is a very special athlete

DNIS News Network -- South African swimmer Natalie Du Toit is a very special athlete at Afro-Asian Games, held in Hyderabad. Even her rivals ask for a picture together in the pool.

Picture of South African swimmer Natalie Du Toit

This 19-year-old swimmer, named outstanding athlete during last year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester, has only one leg and refuses to compete in events for disabled people. She chooses to take on her able-bodied peers, said a report published in The Indian Express.

At the Afro-Asian Games, when Du Toit is not swimming, she is mostly surrounded by autograph hunters, the newspaper report said.

It is understood that she is sensitive about her surroundings in Hyderabad and is eager to know the real people. "We've been put up at a posh hotel. All we see are Nike and Adidas showrooms. I want to go and see the actual conditions here and meet the people if there is time after my events," she was reported as saying.

Two years ago, when she lost her left leg, Du Toit had two options: she could either roll over and play dead, or she could get up and fight her way out of her disability. She chose the latter - "I wanted to get on with life" - and was back in the pool a week after she was discharged from the hospital, said the report.

According to Du Toit, sport is not just an event to lose or win; it is an opportunity to be a better person. She is believed to have been talking about her experiences on lecture tours around South Africa.

Her lectures have helped her cope with her own mental trauma. "By giving others hope, some of it comes back to me."

This was evident during last year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where Du Toit made history by qualifying for the final of 800 metres freestyle. She now wants to qualify for the 2004 Olympics and has an even bigger dream to follow: "I want to run and cycle again," she was reported as saying. "That's what I really want to do."

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