#EWNSPORTINGMOMENTS: Natalie du Toit announces herself to the world

Du Toit won both the multi-disability 50m freestyle and the multi-disability 100m freestyle in world record time.

FILE: Natalie du Toit wins gold in the women's 400m freestyle race in the Paralympics. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sports Picture Agency.

JOHANNESBURG - With live sport unfortunately not coming back anytime soon, this is the perfect time to look back at some of the most memorable moments in sporting history.

As part of EWN's most inspiring moments in sports history series, we look back at the 2002 Commonwealth Games when 18-year-old Natalie Du Toit burst onto the scene in the most dominant way possible.

Du Toit started her international swimming career at the age of just 14 when she took part in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Three years later and her life would change forever. Du Toit's left leg was amputated at the knee after she was hit by a car while riding her scooter back to school after swimming practice. Just three months later and Du Toit was back in the pool.

By the time the Commonwealth Games came around in 2002, Du Toit was being touted as a medal hopeful and she delivered on that expectation.

Du Toit won both the multi-disability 50m freestyle and the multi-disability 100m freestyle in world record time.

The records didn’t stop there as Du Toit went on to make sporting history by qualifying for the 800m able-bodied freestyle final, the first time that an athlete with a disability had qualified for the final of an able-bodied event.

Speaking to EWN Sport, du Toit recalled the build-up to the Games.

“You get earmarked in terms of you know you're possibly a medal hopeful at the Commonwealth Games and I think from my side, it was just to try and train as hard as I could and actually try and do a bit of sprinting because I'm not a sprinter, never have been. We worked on starts and being fast at your turns, so it was little things like that that you know we needed to work on”, she said.

Du Toit would go on to win the David Dixon Award for outstanding athlete. She said that the memories around the Games themselves are what stuck with her.

“It is all memories, you know, of the crowd standing, it's memories of standing on the podium and giggling - when I get nervous I giggle. I remember the closing ceremony as well and receiving the David Dixon Award - it was pouring with rain and all that was going through my head was I can’t slip, if I slip it’s going to be in front of so many people. I think it’s one of those things that come about where it was all about firsts,” she said.

Du Toit would go on to win 5 Paralympic gold medals in Athens in 2004 and said that those achievements changed the way people saw her.

“After Commonwealth Games, after Athens, when people started to get to know that I was a swimmer, and that, you know, I won a few awards, people started seeing my face before they saw my leg, and they've always been supportive and said: 'You know we always follow you, we've seen you swim on TV.'”

Du Toit became one of the most successful swimmers of all time, racking up a total of 37 gold medals across a professional career that spanned over 10 years.