Natalie poised for swansong
Johannesburg - South Africa's most acclaimed amputee swimmer Natalie du Toit's career will come to an end two days before the end of the London 2012 Paralympics.
"This is it, this is not only my last Paralympics but my last competition," Du Toit told Road to London on Sunday, three days before the opening ceremony.
"I've achieved everything I wanted and the last few years have just been an incredible strain on me psychologically.
"I'm not at liberty to go into the details right now but it hasn't been at all easy.
"So I've pretty much been staying in Italy for the last eight months or so, just popping back over to SA for nationals et cetera."
Both an Olympian and Paralympian in 2008 on this occasion Du Toit only qualified for the Paralympics, just being pipped by Jessica Roux at world open water championships in Setubal in Portugal earlier this year.
Roux was unable to complete the open water event at the Olympics.
As usual a glutton for punishment when it comes to competition, she'll be the country's busiest swimmer in the Aquatics Centre come this week.
"I've got a full house of seven events these Games and I'll be swimming for seven of the 10 days," she said.
The 28-year-old will be swimming the 50 metre freestyle, 100m butterfly, freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, the 200m individual medley and the 400m freestyle.
She's got a tough act to follow this time around, having won five gold medals in both Athens and Beijing.
"I guess that's the benchmark I've set myself," she said.
"I must say though that apart from the stuff I mentioned earlier, I just haven't been swimming well for the last year or so.
"I am just going out there to do the best I can.
"I've also been doing a lot of marathon training so its hard to gauge exactly where I'm at."
Currently she has two Italian coaches Cuzzani and Bonaccorsi Fabio overseeing her programmes.
"Well I am on the way back up and I've lost weight again, so we'll just have to see," Du Toit said.
The three events that, all being well, should be almost guaranteed to bring gold are the 100 butterfly, 400m freestyle and the 200m IM, with the rest being less predictable.
As the curtain is drawn on her swimming career Du Toit said she was still uncertain on what she would do next.
"I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do yet," she said.
"I'd like to go back and study, I did a year at UCT (Sports Science) but marathon training was taking six to eight hours out of my day at that stage, so that didn't work out to well."
Two souls that will probably be a lot happier to see more of her than was previously the case are her beloved two boxer dogs Binga and Rupert, currently living with her parents in Southfield, Cape Town.