Natalie lights up Olympic team
13 June 2008
It was a busy day at Olympic House on Thursday as the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee announced the South African team for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, and also named the second part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic team.
Natalie du Toit made history by being named in both teams. She had qualified for the Olympics by finishing an astounding fourth in the 10-kilometre race at the World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville in May; she needed to place in the top 10 to earn a spot at the Olympics.
South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) President Moss Mashishi praised Du Toit, saying the organisation is confident she will excel at both the Olympics and Paralympics.
"This is a tremendous achievement by any standard," said Mashishi.
"She is setting history today by being the first athlete to compete at the Olympics and Paralympics at the same time. We are setting this country on the map in a way that's never done before."
Since having her left leg amputated below the knee after an accident in 2001, Du Toit - who was at the time of her accident a swimmer with ambitions of swimming in the Olympics - has achieved astounding success in competition against both able-bodied and swimmers with disabilities.
Displaying a never-say-die spirit that has become her trademark, she competed at the Commonwealth Games the following year, winning two multi-disability titles in world record time and, more significantly, she qualified for the final of the 800 metres freestyle - the first time in history that an athlete with a disability had qualified for the final of a major able-bodied event.
That achievement won her the first David Dixon award for the Outstanding Athlete of the Games. Since then Du Toit's astonishing career has continued on an upward spiral and becoming the first athlete with a disability to qualify for the Olympics grants her a place in history that can never be taken away from her.
Joining Du Toit in the Paralympic line-up is double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, whose bid to compete at the Olympics was taken all the way to the Court for Arbitration in Sport before he was cleared.
"The Blade Runner" admits that, after the time-consuming fight and what it has taken away from his training, his chances of making the Olympic Games are slim, but he will be one of the superstars of the Paralympics.
Also in the 60-strong South African team is the winner of the 2006 Laureus Sportsperson of the Year Award for an athlete with a disability Ernst van Dyk, the seven-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and the fastest man ever in the event.
Fanie Lombard and Zanele Situ, both of whom have previously won Paralympic gold medals, are also in the line-up.
The team will represent South Africa in athletics, aquatics, cycling, equestrian, powerlifting, rowing, table tennis, tennis, and wheelchair basketball.
It has a proud record to defend. In Athens, in 2004, South Africa finished 13th on the medal table, winning 15 gold medals, 13 silvers, and seven bronzes. Natalie du Toit won five golds, while there were two each for Fanie Lombard and Teboho Mokgalagadi.
Speaking at a function to announce the team, entitled "Here's to our Heroes", Mashishi said: "We are a country that has always sought to do the extraordinary, and we have achieved this because of the many men and women who have realised that heroes are not those fantastic beings that can fly, but ordinary people who through their actions make the rest of us believe we can fly.
"Today we pay tribute to South Africans who stand tall despite sitting in a wheelchair, South Africans who take broken limbs and go on to break records, South Africans who can't see but still have vision, South Africans who prove that against all odds, anything is possible."
The second part of the team named for the Beijing Olympics included aquatics, badminton, canoeing, hockey, judo, and wrestling.
While Natalie du Toit will do duty in the open water swimming for women, Chad Ho, a top performer in the Midmar Mile, will respresent the men.
A 10-member sprint canoeing team was announced, ranging from a K4 women's crew to competitors in C1 (single-paddle) canoeing.
South Africa's badminton players will compete in both the men's and women's doubles, with the Dednam brothers, Chris and Roelof, teaming up, while Michelle Edwards and Chantal Botts will represent the women
Men's and women's hockey teams were also named, along with three judo competitors - Matthew Jago, Marlon August and Patrick Trezise – and South Africa's sole wrestling representative, Heinrich Barnes.
Athletics: Ilse Hayes, Zanele Situ, Chenelle van Zyl, Oscar Pistorius, Hilton Keith, Stephanus Johannes Lombard, Michael Louwrens, Nicholas Newman, Ernst van Dyk, Marius Stander, David Roos, Duane Strydom, Ndodomzi Jonathan Ntutu, Arnu Fourie, Teboho Mokgalagadi, Fanie van der Merwe.
Aquatics: Charl Bouwer, Kevin Paul, Tadgh Slattery, Achmat Hassiem, Natalie du Toit, Shireen Shapiro, Emily Gray, Sarah Shannon, Adri Visser, Beth Nothling
Cycling: Gavin Kilpatrick, Michael Thomson, Riaan Nel, Janos Plekker, Susan van Staden, Roxanne Burns, Ernst van Dyk.
Equestrian: Mark Frenzel, Philippa Johnson, Kerry Noble, Marion Milne
Powerlifting: Wilhelmina Hendrika Grobbelaar
Rowing: Kim Robinson, Kevin du Toit, Gordon Eddey, Masego Mokhine, Jarryd Clarke
Table Tennis: Pieter du Plooy, Johan du Plooy, Alisha Almeida, Aletta Moll
Tennis: Kgothatso Montjane
Wheelchair Basketball: Marcus Retief, Shaun Hartnick, Justin Govender, Nicholas Taylor, Ralph Williams, Marius Papenfus, Siphamandla Gumbi, David Curle, Thandile Zonke, Jeremy Nel, Grant Waites, Richard Nortje
Aquatics: Natalie du Toit and Chad Ho
Badminton: Chris Dednam, Roelof Dednam, Michelle Edwards and Chantal Botts
Canoeing: Shaun Rubenstein, Jennifer Hodson, Michelle Eray, Nikki Mocke, Carol Joyce, Bridgette Hartely, Calvin Mokoto, Cameron McIntosh, Lindelani Ngidi and Siboniso Cele
Men’s Hockey: Geoffrey Abbott, Clyde Abrahams, Marvin Bam, Paul Blake, Andrew Cronje, Darren Gallagher, Thomas Hammond, Marvin Harper, Christopher Hibbert, Bruce Jacobs, Thornton McDade, Charles Rose-Innes, Austin Smith, Emile Smith, Ian Symons and Lungile Tsolekile
Women’s Hockey: Tarryn Bright, Cindy Brown, Fiona Butler, Lisa Deetlefs, Leslie-Ann George, Kate Hector, Taryn Hosking, Vuyisanani Mangisa, Lenise Marais, Marsha Marescia, Mariette Rix, Shelly Russell, Vida Ryan, Vidette Ryan, Kathleen Taylor and Jennifer Wilson
Judo: Matthew Jago, Marlon August and Patrick Trezise
Wrestling: Heinrich Barnes
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