Amputee to Swim 10K in Beijing

If South African runner Oscar Pistorius qualifies for the Olympics, he won’t be the only South African amputee competing in Beijing. Last month, Natalie Du Toit made the Olympic team in the new 10K Open Water Swimming {wiki} event. Du Toit lost the lower half of her left leg seven years ago in a traffic accident. She is the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic games.
Unlike Pistorius, Du Toit does not wear a prosthetic leg in races and is therefore free to compete in Beijing. It is akin to competing in a sculling race with one scull or a kayak race with a single-bladed paddle. Her secret? Well, there is no secret, she says, no physical or technical trick to compensate for the loss of a limb. Just hard work and obsessive determination. "There's no real compensation. You just do the hours in the swimming pool, you do the hours of racing and you do the hours of mental preparation. You just go out and give it everything. I don't even think of one leg, two legs. When you're racing in an able-bodied competition you're all equal and you go out there and try your best, and that's what counts.

"Swimming is my passion and something that I love. Going out there in the water, it feels as if there's nothing wrong with me. I go out there and train as hard as anybody else. I have the same dreams, the same goals. It doesn't matter if you look different. You're still the same as everybody else because you have the same dream."

Du Toit narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic swmming team in 2000, before her amputation. Link to story. Du Toit’s website.

(image credit: Associated Press)

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