Du Toit doesn't win, but inspires in Olympic debut

    栏目:体育资讯  

Natalie du Toit pulled herself onto the dock and waited for someone to bring her prosthetic leg. She stretched out the other leg, the one she didn't lose in that horrendous motorcycle accident, and chatted with her coach about the first open water race in Olympic history.


 

 

 

 

South Africa's Natalie du Toit swims in the Women's 10km Marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the Shunyi Rowing and Canoeing Park in Beijing on August 19, 2008. Russia's Larisa Ilchenko won the gold medal, with GREat Britain's Keri-Anne Payne and Cassandra Patten claiming the silver and bronze respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

Du Toit didn't finish where she wanted. Not even close.

But just making it to Beijing was a huge victory for anyone who's ever faced a disability.

Hoping to contend for a medal, the 24-year-old South African amputee fell off the pace toward the end of the grueling 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) race and finished 16th, more than a minute behind gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.

"I tried my best," du Toit said. "I'm not too happy with it, but I'll be back for 2012."

Don't bet against her.

When she walked out with 24 other swimmers to be introduced for the historic event, it was quickly apparent this wasn't just another competitor.

Du Toit hobbled along stiffly on her artificial leg, No. 23 written on her back and both arms. While others bounced up and down to loosen up, she settled for shaking her arms. A couple of times, she walked over to the edge to splash water on her face and goggles, leaning over tenuously with her metal prosthetic sticking out to the side, serving as balance.

When it was time to race, she walked onto the dock and removed her replacement leg. Someone moved it away, and du Toit sat at the edge of the water, her right leg dangling in. When the starter called for everyone to get ready, she pulled herself up, wobbled just a bit and dove in.

She was an Olympian.

Du Toit hung with the lead pack most of the race, but couldn't keep up when the pace quickened toward the end of the two-hour ordeal. She finished 1 minute, 22.2 seconds behind Ilchenko, who out-sprinted two British swimmers who led most of the way.


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