go for it, Natalie!

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

BEIJING - History is likely to be rewritten at the Beijing Olympic Games when South African swimming queen Natalie du Toit competes against able-bodied athletes in the women's 10km open water swim on August 20.

Du Toit, whose left leg was amputated below the knee following a motorbike accident in 2001, has the strength and talent to surprise many able-bodied competitors on the day.

If she wins an Olympic medal, the 24-year-old will become the first amputee to achieve this feat in 56 years.

The last amputee to achieve this was Karoly Takacs, the Hungarian pistol shooter who won gold at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.

Du Toit qualified for the Olympics after finishing fourth at the world open water swimming championships in Seville in May.

Other athletes who finished in the top 10 bracket in Seville also qualified.

Du Toit, who will also compete in the Paralympics, which start next month, says she is not under pressure to win a medal in the Olympics. She says she is preparing herself for the Summer Olympics in London in 2012.

"I'm happy that I will compete in the Olympics here and I will give my best shot and we will see what comes out of my performance," said the multiple award-winning swimmer yesterday.

"It is important for me to start preparing for the London Games now and I'm glad I got this opportunity. For me it is not about writing history in Beijing but to compete for my country.

"I was very emotional when I qualified for the Olympics in Seville and today I'm standing here counting the days to the event. My passion for swimming has driven me through many things and I'm positive it will continue to be my driving force. There is nothing impossible in life," added Du Toit who is also a motivational speaker.

She won five gold medals and a silver at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and will be hoping to do much better at next month's event.