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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 14:53 GMT
Du Toit hopes to repeat 2002 feat
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Melbourne

Natalie Du Toit in Melbourne
Du Toit has not competed for almost a year
Disability swimmer Natalie du Toit, star of the 2002 Games after coming eighth in the able-bodied 800m, is going for medals again in Melbourne.

Du Toit, who lost her leg in a motorbike crash, will enter the 800m freestyle again as well as defending her 50m and 100m disability titles.

"Before Manchester, people used to notice me for missing a leg," she said.

"Now they notice me for my achievements and that's fantastic. I'm not a worse athlete because I've got one less leg."

The Manchester Games were Du Toit's first major competition since her accident, and this time she arrives in Melbourne having not competed since April.

"I just haven't had time to compete, that's all," she admitted.

Natalie Du Toit was a Commonwealth swimmer before her accident
Du Toit was a Commonwealth swimmer before her accident

Aside from her training, which sees her get up at 0430 four mornings a week, she is also studying for a diploma in sports management and doing motivational speaking.

"As a result, I'm a bit anxious about Melbourne," she revealed. "In the back of your mind you think can I compete?

"But I've trained hard and arrived in Melbourne knowing I've done my best and will give my best."

Her goals are simple - to repeat her feats and break the world record she set in Manchester.

"Then I'll be looking to qualify for the Olympics - that's the main career goal," said the 23-year-old South African.

This will be Du Toit's third Commonwealth Games - she competed in Malaysia in 1998 prior to her crash.

She had been travelling back from school when the accident happened.

"It didn't take the leg off - it was more like it is when you drop a tomato from a great height," she told BBC Sport "Everything was just obliterated."

Doctors battled for a week to save her damaged limb before eventually deciding to amputate.

"I knew the operation was going to happen because, although I was sedated, I could hear people around me," she said.

But that never halted her ambitions of reaching the Commonwealth Games, where she was named athlete of the Games, which resulted in a meeting with the Queen.

"Manchester will always have a special place in my heart," she said. "It was fantastic from start to finish.

"The Games village was a buzz throughout, I met so many lovely people and the crowd were absolutely brilliant - they got behind me in every race.

"Then that was capped off by the award and meeting the Queen. I'd seen her in magazines before but she somehow seemed very different in the flesh.

"For the half-hour before I met her I was worrying about how I was going to curtsy with my prosthetic leg.

"She then asked me what I'd won my medals in, shook my hand and moved on. To shake her hand was unbelievable - totally indescribable."





Links to more Commonwealth Games stories


 


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Super Du Toit shines at World Cup
14 May 05 |  Disability Sport


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