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Author: Tracey Hawthorne
Natalie du Toit’s story is a truly inspirational one of the courage required to overcome adversity.
She has done it with steely determination and unfaltering humour.
At 22, Natalie has achieved phenomenal success as an international swimming sensation and inspires South Africans through her tireless charity work.
Her leg was amputated after a horrific scooter accident in 2001 and just 124 days later, she was competing against able-bodied swimmers in the Western Province winter gala.
In 2002 Natalie made history swimming the 800m freestyle (able-bodied) final at the Commonwealth Games and was awarded the David Dixon award for outstanding athlete.
Swimming in both able-bodied and disabled events, Natalie has continued to win hearts (and medals) and, most recently, broke another two records at the 2006 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.
Refusing to give up on her dream, Natalie is now in training for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Tumble Turn is her story.
Tracey Hawthorne has written and/or contributed to nine non-fiction books and edited upwards of thirty. She writes prolifically on a wide range of subjects for a variety of publications, both locally and abroad.
Shape (Joanne Lillie):
Sunday World (Don Makatile):
These are troubled times for sport, and the many millions of people around the world who love sport in one form or another have reason to be concerned. Hardly a season goes by without sport somewhere on the globe being rocked by another high profile revelation of individuals or teams who have resorted to artificial or unlawful means to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. This unfortunate phenomenon strikes at the very heart of sport and fair competition.
The uncertainty of the outcome of a game or contest, the support of the underdog, the undying loyalty to a club or team, the marvel at the daring and the brave, the witness of triumph over tragedy - these are the reasons we love sport and we are concerned and troubled to even have a slight suspicion that the outcome of any sporting achievement is not the result of a fair and noble contest.
This is why we at this moment in time need to celebrate the life and times of Natalie duToit as illustrated and recorded in this book, Tumble Turn. The story of Natalie, captured in mostly her own words, restores our love and faith in sport and in the fair and noble pursuit of excellence. We are once again comforted and inspired by a sporting life story of bravery and will power, of a positive attitude and the triumph of over-coming seemingly insurmountable odds.
Allow me, for a brief moment, to go back to 1995 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup. I was privileged to witness this sporting miracle from a position within the management team of the Springboks. Forever imprinted in my memory will be the deep emotions I felt when I walked onto the field at Ellis Park on the day of the Final as the two teams lined up for the traditional singing of the National Anthems before the start of this epic battle.
The crowd of 60 000 fanatical rugby supporters were chanting the name of the person who had come to symbolise all that is good about our great country. I was proud to be a South African when I heard the chant of 'Nelson, Nelson, Nelson' ringing around the stadium.
Seven years later, on the 4 August 2002, I watched from many miles away this time, another South African sporting miracle. After losing her leg in a terrible accident in Kildare Road, Newlands, not far from where I work and live, only eighteen months before, a young lady called Natalie du Toit proceeded to sweep all before her in the swimming pool at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
On that rainy day I watched together with millions, if not billions, of TV viewers as Natalie was presented with the David Dixon award. This award is made for the athlete making outstanding contributions to their team and embracing fair play. As in 1995 I was filled with similar emotions of pride in our country and the brave youth who represent it.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of following Natalie's swimming career and life development from the vantage point of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, where we are proud to see her frequently. I have also interacted with Natalie in her position as a Friend and Ambassador of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
This interaction and observation continues to confirm what I already know. Natalie du Toit is an outstanding South African who inspires and motivates all those she comes into contact with. As the author indicates, 'she embodies the true spirit of grit for sport, its life blood, the way you play, what you overcome, and how you smile afterwards'.