Natalie du Toit missed out on an individual Laureus award at the prestigious annual event, held in Berlin on Monday night, but was in the audience as Siya Kolisi accepted the Laureus Team of the Year award on behalf of the Springboks.
Du Toit had been a finalist for the Laureus Sporting Moment of the last 20 years (2000-2020) and is one of South Africa’s most decorated sports personalities. As a 17-year-old while riding her motorcycle, she was involved in a traffic accident in Cape Town and had her leg amputated at the knee.
Three months later, she returned to swimming and, a year later, she made history. At the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, she qualified to swim in the 800m freestyle final – the first time that an amputee qualified to compete in the finals of a major international swimming competition.
She went on to dominate the Paralympic swimming scene, becoming a great of the sport.
The Sporting Moment of the last 20 years went to Sachin Tendulkar. On his sixth attempt, Tendulkar led India to victory at the 2011 ICC World Cup. The victory could not have been more historic, as it was India’s first World Cup win on home soil and their second ever triumph.
Team of the Year went to the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks. English football giants Liverpool were also in the running after clinching the Champions League crown, as well as the US Women’s Football Team (Women’s World Cup winners), Mercedes-AMG Petronas (for winning the Formula One constructors’ title), the Toronto Raptors (first Canadian team to claim the NBA Championship) and the Spanish Men’s Basketball team (World Cup winners).