Monday, May 5, 2008

First Amputee to Qualify for Beijing Olympics

This is an amazing story of courage and endurance which lead all the way to Beijing Summer Olympics.

If I told you that Natalie Du Toit a swimmer from South Africa has qualified for Olympics you will probably shrug and think "whats the big deal, so have many others". What if you knew she has only one leg and she doesn’t wear a prosthetic leg during competition which makes this that much more amazing.

South African swimmer Natalie Du Toit became the first amputee to qualify for the Olympics. Du Toit, 24, who lost her left leg in an accident when she was hit by a car while riding her scooter in 2001.

She was fourth in the 10-kilometer open-water swim at the world championships Saturday in Seville, Spain. The top 10 swimmers qualified for Beijing. Du Toit finished in 2 hours 2 minutes 7.8 seconds. She was 5.1 seconds behind winner Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.

"I think this is the first time I've ever cried after a swim because it means so much,"said Du Toit. We can understand the significance of the moment for her and the message she is sending out to the world.

Other disabled athletes have competed in the Summer Olympics. Marla Runyan, a legally blind runner, competed for the U.S. team at the 2000 Sydney Games. New Zealand archer Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic to compete in the Olympics in 1984.

Another South African, sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who is a double amputee, is also trying to qualify for the Olympics. He has been banned from competing because his carbon-fiber blades are deemed to give him an advantage. He has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In 2002, Du Toit was the first amputee to swim in the finals of a major championship. She just missed qualifying for the 2004 Athens Games and went on to win five golds and a silver in the Paralympics.

Good luck girl, Way to go.

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