Against All Odds, You 'Swim Your Own Race'

Illustration of Olympic swimmer and amputee Natalie du Toit.
Ron Tanovitz

About The Poetry Games
To celebrate the Olympics we invited poets from around the globe to compose original works about athletes and athletics — and asked you to be the judges.

Thousands of you voted, and we're pleased to crown the victor: Mbali Vilakazi from South Africa for her poem "Swim Your Own Race." Click here to listen to an interview with Vilakazi.

South African poet Mbali Vilakazi is also a performer and radio producer based in Cape Town. Vilakazi's poem pays tribute to South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, the first female amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Du Toit lost her leg after a scooter accident at age 17. During the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she carried the torch for South Africa and competed in the women's 10 km open-water race. The Order of Ikhamanga mentioned in the poem is awarded by the president of South Africa for achievement in culture and sports. Of du Toit's accomplishments Vilakazi says, "I want to be able to celebrate her and the inspiration she is. ... She is everything the Olympics represent to me — the triumph of the human spirit."

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