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Disabled Swimmer Named South Africa's Athlete of the Year -- December 27, 2002 Natalie du Toit

BLOEMFONTEIN, December 27. NATALIE DU TOIT, 20, a disabled swimmer, was named South Africa's top Sportswoman of 2002 at the annual Sports Media banquet in Bloemfontein on Friday. The selection was made by sports editors across South Africa.

Golfer Ernie Els was named the country's Sportsman of the Year.

Du Toit, a top South African swimmer who lost a leg after an auto accident in December 2000, became the first disabled swimmer to compete in the finals of a major able-bodied competition last July when she finished eighth in the 800m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England -- the same placing she achieved four years earlier at the Commonwealth games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Double Olympic champion Penny Heyns received a special award for her swimming achievements and contribution to South African sport.