Natalie du Toit
Natalie Du Toit dives during a training session
Natalie du Toit
'I still believe in myself as a whole person' - Natalie du Toit
Natalie du Toit: ability of mind
South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, whose left leg was amputated below the knee in 2001, has gone on to compete against - and often beat - able-bodied swimmers at the highest level.
Her achievements at international events for athletes with disability are outstanding enough. She won five gold medals and a silver at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, and followed that up with three golds at the 2005 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.
At the 2006 International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships in Durban, Du Toit won six gold medals, including an incredible third place overall in the five-kilometre open water event.
Ivan Klasnic, the 28-year-old Croatia striker whose goal last night extinguished Polish hopes and underlined the strength and passion in depth in this team who England face in the World Cup qualifiers, underwent two kidney transplants last year, his body rejecting an organ from his mother before accepting one from his father. He was warned by his doctor that he was putting his life on the line by returning to football. Last night he scored the only goal on his debut in the European Championship.
Klasnic plays with a fibreglass shield around his middle but he has scored for his club – Werder Bremen, whom he leaves this summer – and his country in a remarkable comeback. “I’m happy to play football again,” he said. “This is a new football life to me. A second life. It’s like a dream.”
Croatia coach, Slaven Bilic hailed Klasnic, a committed Christian. “We all prayed for him and he had very strong faith throughout,” Bilic said. “We called him but he encouraged us. It’s a perfect success story.”
When I was learning how to climb mountains as a blind person, I had a lot of encouragement from experts. But after I summited Mount Everest, these people weren't ready to accept what I had done at face value. Some said I must have cheated; one even claimed I had an unfair advantage: "I'd climb Mount Everest too if I couldn't see how far I had to fall."
Similarly, when Oscar Pistorius' lower legs were amputated at age 1, few would have banked on this South African challenging world-class sprinters. At 20, when he began to close in on an Olympic-qualifying time for the 400 m, experts posited that his times were so good, he must have been getting an un-fair advantage from his bladelike prosthetics. When he set his sights on the Olympic Games in Beijing, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled he couldn't compete against able-bodied athletes. An IAAF-initiated study found that more energy is returned to Pistorius' upper legs from his blades than from ankles and calf muscles and that he uses less oxygen.
Pistorius, 21, is appealing, on the basis of studies with differing results. It was only recently that living with prosthetic legs was seen as a huge impediment, but he has turned this perception upside down. He's on the cusp of a paradigm shift in which disability becomes ability, disadvantage becomes advantage. Yet we mustn't lose sight of what makes an athlete great. It's too easy to credit Pistorius' success to technology. Through birth or circumstance, some are given certain gifts, but it's what one does with those gifts, the hours devoted to training, the desire to be the best, that is at the true heart of a champion
Alex Zanardi: 'I once thought I'd rather die than have no legs but now I see I was wrong'
After failing in F1, the Italian driver was on the podium in Champ Car racing - until the crash that cost him his legs. The doctors told him not to do it, cynics said it was a stunt, but he's back at the wheel and winning
Alessandro Zanardi was born in Bologna in 1966. In 1988 he joined the Italian Formula 3 series, moving up to Formula 3000 in 1991. Later that year he made his F1 debut at the Spanish Grand Prix, driving for Jordan. Two years later, shortly after winning his first point in Brazil, he was in a serious crash at the Belgian Grand Prix and missed the rest of the season. By 1995, his F1 career appeared to be over and he began racing Champ Cars. In 1996, he was named Champ rookie of the year. Zanardi returned to F1 in 1999 with Williams but lasted only a year. He then drove Champ Cars until losing his legs in a crash in September 2001. After his accident, Zanardi helped design his own prosthetic limbs so that they would be suitable for racing. He returned to competitive driving in 2004 and won his first World Touring Cars race in Germany in August 2005. He is racing at Anderstorp in Sweden today
Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda (born February 22, 1949 in Vienna) is an Austrian aviator, entrepreneur, former Formula One (F1) racing driver and three-time F1 World Champion. In 2008, American sports television network ESPN ranked him 22nd on their top drivers of all-time
Lance Armstrong (b. September 18, 1971, Plano, Texas) is a retired American professional road racing cyclist. He won the Tour de France seven consecutive times, from 1999 to 2005. In doing so, he beat the previous records of five wins by Miguel Indurain (consecutive) and Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. Previous to this achievement, he also survived testicular cancer, a germ cell tumor that metastasized to his brain and lungs in 1996. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy.
In 1999, he was named the American Broadcasting Company's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. He received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. Armstrong retired from racing on July 24, 2005, at the end of the 2005 Tour de France.