Inspiration personified

Although out of sight these days, Natalie du Toit is certainly not doing nothing. THATO TINTE finds out what she’s been up to since her retirement four years ago.

Legendary, determined, courageous – these words have come to be synonymous with Natalie du Toit. For more than a decade, this Paralympic swimming champion broke down barriers and proved to the world that, with tenacity, hard work and self-belief, anything is possible.

Natalie closed the chapter of her swimming career after competing in the 2012 London Paralymic Games, leaving the world wondering what the future held for the powerhouse.

After retiring, Natalie says that she knew she couldn’t do any more than she had already done in swimming. “I had achieved everything at the highest levels, both within the abled and disabled categories. I’d broken records, achieved my personal goals and knew that now I wanted to study, go into business and be successful,” she says.

It wasn’t easy, though. After trading her swimsuit for a business suit, Natalie battled to find employment. “It was tough and I struggled for almost two years. Fortunately, my manager had kept some money aside for me, but that ran out and things became difficult towards the end,” she explains.

Then, in August 2014, she found employment as a management consultant at consulting firm Vuma Reputation Management, and since then there have been no limits for her.

In November 2015, she made a sporting comeback when she joined renowned TV personality Cynthia Tshaka as a co-host on the new SuperSport4 (SS4) talk show, Women. Sports. Talk (WST). The show, which Natalie says she’s proud to be a part of, aims to celebrate women in sport, and create important dialogue on the challenges and victories faced by them.

She’s also enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce Business Management degree at The Da Vinci Institute – a school of managerial leadership – as a pathway to helping her “one day run her own business”.

As if all that weren’t enough, this go-getter continues to give motivational talks, sits on the board of directors for the South African Institute of Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) and is employed as a business partner at communication company Innocomm, where she oversees public relations, marketing and social media functions.

She admits that the transition into corporate life has had its challenges. “It has taken me since London 2012 to settle down and realise what I wanted to do with my life.

“Many people think that if you’re a success in sport, you’ll automatically be a success in business, and that’s not true. To achieve anything in life, you must grab all opportunities given to you and make them work.”

She is grateful to the public and her support system, saying: “I can never thank South Africa enough for believing in me.”

So does she still swim? “If I’m at someone’s house and there’s a swimming pool, I’ll get in, but apart from this, I no longer have time to swim or train,” she says with a laugh.

Natalie has a special message for Rolling Inspiration readers: “You won’t always get everything on a silver platter; you have to make your situation work for you. If you want something, believe and make it happen despite the difficulties you may face. Get up and work on your goals.”

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