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South African Swim Star Injured, Leg Is Amputated -- March 6, 2001


March 6. NATALIE DU TOIT, regarded by many as one of South Africa's most likely contenders at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, was injured in a traffic accident in Cape Town a week ago and had to have a leg amputated.

A member of the South African National Team and the country's national champion in the women's 400m individual medley, the likeable 17 year old was knocked off her scooter on Monday morning, Feb. 26. She had just completed training at Newlands, Cape Town, and was on her way to school.

Du Toit's leg was broken in four places and she underwent two operations. When her leg showed no sign of healing, doctors said they had to amputate to save her life.

Speaking soon after the four-hour operation yesterday, Du Toit's parents said she was in a stable condition at the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic.

"There are no words for what I am feeling," said her father, David. "Natalie's spirits have remained high the whole week. She has been smiling and joking, and stayed calm when doctors told her she would lose her leg.

"She is an extremely motivated athlete and I believe her incredible spirit will pull her through this," he added.

Her mother, Deidre, said Natalie had been more concerned about her family than herself. "After the accident, Natalie was calming all the panicked people down, telling them she was going to be fine," she said.

Du Toit's swimming coach, Karoly von Toros, said: "She has character and is strong-willed, and I believe one day she will make it to the Olympics."

An e-mail from the Vineyards Club, which Natalie represented, reads:

Dear swimming lover and member of the
swimming fraternity:

We were all shocked and devastated by
the news of Natalie du Toit's accident
and the serious injuries to her left
leg. We all love Natalie, not only
because of the example she sets inside
and outside the pool and the fact that
she has become a role model for the young
swimmers in our Club and our Province,
but mostly because of her warm personality,
her concern for other people, and her
humbleness.

We have no doubt that she is being treated
by the best medical practitioners available,
but we also know that her medical expenses
will eventually be astronomical. We have
started a Natalie du Toit Fund to assist the
family in this regard, and you are hereby
invited to contribute to this Fund according
to your means. Natalie is not only a dear
member of the Vineyard family, but also of
the family of swimmers in the whole of South
Africa. This is an opportunity to show our
love for a family member.

The swimming fraternities in all provinces
have been wonderful in their sincere interest
and support, and the Fund we have started
will be a country-wide initiative.

Should you wish to show your financial
support, please put your contribution
(however small it may be) in an envelope
and hand it to our Treasurer, Janine
Williams, or make a direct deposit into
the bank account which has been set up
for this purpose.

The banking details are: [NL]Natalie du
Toit Fund, FNB, Claremont: Acct NO:
62023297551: Branch Code: 200109.

If at all possible, please fax the deposit
slip to 021-551 7080.

On behalf of the whole swimming fraternity
we wish this brave young lady all the best
as she begins her road to recovery.

You are in our prayers Natalie, God Bless.