Paralympics 2012

Du Toit: I've reached my goals

2012-08-30 22:30
Natalie du Toit (AP)
  Video

Du Toit's golden swim

2012-08-31 09:06

Natalie du Toit has won South Africa's first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in London. She won the women's 100m butterfly S-9 final for the third Games in succession.

London - Team South Africa bagged their first gold medal at the London Paralympic Games when Natalie du Toit won the women's 100m butterfly S9 final on Thursday evening.

Having breezed through the heats in the morning session, she went on to win the final, for the third and last time, in one minute, 9.30 seconds (1:09.30).

“I’m relieved to have got the first race out the way but a little disappointed with my time,” Du Toit said.

“I think I could have done a bit more, but that was my race and I can’t complain now.”

Du Toit was second at the turn and looked dangerously close to losing out on a medal, but she pulled through in the final few metres.

Sarai Gascon of Spain (1:09.79 ) and Elizabeth Stone from America (1:10.10 ) were second and third respectively in the closely contested race.

“We have new starting blocks with the board at the back and, being a leg amputee, I’ll always be one of the slowest out of the blocks,” Du Toit said.

“My whole life I’ve been the slowest out of the blocks so I’m used to it.

“You also get a little stage fright but I’m a distance swimmer so, in a lot of events, I come back towards the end.”

Competing for the last time at a Paralympics, Du Toit said she was feeling more relaxed and determined to just enjoy the experience.

“It’s great to have that one over and it’s the last time I’ll ever swim 100m butterfly,” she said.

“After everything I’ve gone through, it’s actually quite a relief that it’s my last Games.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to walk away and know that I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve and there’s nothing else that I could have done.

“Tomorrow is 100m backstroke and that’s more of a challenge so I’ve got to concentrate on that one now.”

Five-time gold medal winner at both the Paralympics in Athens and Beijing, Du Toit has kept a low profile in the lead up to the London Games.

“London has been great and I’ve been able to see a few of the sights which took a bit of the pressure off the racing.

“That was my aim coming into this competition - just to have fun and enjoy what I’m doing.”

The 28-year-old from Cape Town had her left leg amputated at the knee in 2001 after she was hit by a car while riding her scooter.

Aiming to go out with a bang, she will also compete in the 100m breaststroke later in the week and attempt to defend her medals in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle races and the 200m individual medley.

“It’s the first time in three Paralympics that I’m able to swim seven races," she said.

“It’s not about the golds, it’s about taking part, especially in the backstroke and breaststroke as those are two races I’ve never been able to swim before.

“So I’ll give it my best, but what to expect, I have no idea.”

Kevin Paul finished fourth in the men's 200m individual medley SM10 final after winning his heat in the morning session.

Paul said he surprised with his performance in the heats, setting an African record and a personal best time of 2:14.97.

“I’m only aiming to peak on day nine for my main event - the 100m breaststroke,” Paul said.

“It would be hard to maintain that level throughout the nine days so my coach and I decided to sacrifice a few events, which included this one.

“I’m older and more focussed than I was in Beijing and I can take more pressure.

“So I qualified for few more events just to build up to the 100m breaststroke and I wouldn’t be able to sit in the village for nine days doing nothing so this is just keeping me busy for my main event.”

Meanwhile, in men’s track cycling, Jaco Nel produced a personal best time in the 1km individual C1-2-3 time trial event at the Velodrome, cheered on by 6 000 spectators.

Riding in the C2 category, Nel set a temporary Paralympic record with his one kilometre sprint in 1:18.488, but his record was short-lived as Tobias Graf of Germany, who rode immediately after him, set a new C2 world record of 1:15.858.

The South African finished 11th overall, as the event comprised cyclists from the three different classifications.

The 35 year-old will be back at the Velodrome on Friday, in the individual C2 pursuit qualifying event, and will also turn out in the road time trial at Brands Hatch next week.

Roxanne Burns was less fortunate on the cycling track as she failed to qualify for the women’s individual C4 pursuit.

She finished last out of the six entrants, in 4:40.874, but still has the C4-5 500m track race to look forward to on Saturday.

Wendy Moller and Anthony Dawson took part in the team test grade 2 Equestrian event, finishing 13th and 15th respectively, while Marion Milne came 10th in the grade 1B event.

Riders first compete in the team test within their grades, followed by the individual championship test.

The scores of both tests are added together to make the team score, with the best three scores across all the grades counting.

Individual medals are also awarded for each grade on the merit of the individual championship test.

In the last event of the day, the South African men's wheelchair basketball team lost 93-39 to Australia in their group A clash.

Elsewhere, the SA men's wheelchair basketball team went down 93-39 against 2008 Beijing gold medallists Australia in their opening group A match.

Wendy Moller and Anthony Dawson took part in the team test grade 2 Equestrian event, finishing 13th and 15th respectively, while Marion Milne came 10th in the grade 1B event.

Riders first complete in the team test within their grades, followed by the individual championship test.

The scores of both tests are added together to make the team score, with the best three scores across all the grades counting.

Individual medals are also awarded for each grade on the merit of the individual championship test.

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