Du Toit turns attention to London 2012

South African swimming star Natalie du Toit on Monday said she was eyeing London 2012 after winning five Paralympic golds and competing in the Beijing Olympics.

Du Toit, who finished 16th in the Olympic 10km marathon swim last month, completed a golden clean sweep in her events on Sunday, matching her five gold medals at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

The 24-year-old took the women’s 50m freestyle to go with her wins in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle events in her class.

Du Toit, who won five golds and a silver in Athens, is aiming to qualify for the 800m freestyle in the pool at the London Olympics as well as the 10km, where she is hoping for a top-10 or top-five placing.

”Having the dream just to get to the Olympic Games and having that one accomplished, I think 2012 is definitely on the cards to do better and better,” she said.

The South African amputee is one of only two athletes to compete at both Beijing Games along with Polish teenager Natalia Partyka, who won table tennis gold in her class.

She said the Olympics gives her a chance to race her favoured longer distances, whereas the longest race in the Paralympics is the 400m. But she insists there is no difference in her approach.

”A race is a race. You get out there and you race. You don’t say ‘I’m racing slightly disabled people, I’m not going to go fast’.”

Du Toit, who lost her left leg at the knee following a road accident in 2001 after narrowly missing qualification for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, intends to swim seven races at the London Paralympics, adding the 100m backstroke and 100m breaststroke to her programme.

”The Paralympics is not less than the Olympics at all. For me the Paralympic Games has been amazing and to go out there and race people of your own stature and your own disability has been important,” she said.

”It also inspires you. You’re not the only one with the disability and others are more disabled than you,” she added.

”I have a saying and it says the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals.

”The tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars but it is a disgrace not to have stars to reach for.” — Sapa-AFP

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