South African swimmer Natalie du Toit lost her left leg just above the knee when she was struck by a car in 2001 but she did not lose her spirit or her dream of being an Olympian. Her fourth place finish in the World Open Water Championship in May earned her the opportunity to compete in Beijing in the 6.2 mile swimming marathon, a pounding endurance test that lasts nearly two hours. Du Toit finished 16th, 1 minute 22 seconds behind the gold medalist, and although she was later awarded "a special gift" for her performance Du Toit made it clear that she did not come to the Olympics to receive special recognition or even necessarily with the gold medal or bust attitude that many Olympians have: "A dream is something that you set for yourself, not that others set for you. And to realize that dream, you don't have to be a champion. You don't have to be the best and win that gold medal. You just have to give it your all. You can't be afraid to try and today I was not. For me, today was a dream come true."
Du Toit's swim and her eloquent words are wonderful expressions of the Olympic Spirit in its purest form.