By Kashiefa Ajam

The first Western Cape provincial honour was awarded to star swimmer Natalie du Toit on Monday for her unique and exceptional achievements.

Du Toit received the top award, the Western Cape Golden Cross, from Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who said she had gone "beyond gold and swam her way into the hearts of not only South Africans but the whole world".

The young swimmer, whose career was cruelly interrupted when her lower leg had to be amputated after a scooter accident last year, is ranked among the top eight swimmers in South Africa.

During the recent Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Du Toit won two gold medals in the Elite Athlete with a Disability (EAD) freestyle swimming events and broke no less than two world records.

She also won the inaugural David Dixon Award as the Outstanding Games Athlete and was chosen ahead of an Australian men's swimmer who won six gold medals at the games.

"Natalie is indeed a remarkable person. At the age of 18, she was involved in an accident that would have stopped most people in their tracks.

"Her magnificent achievements in Manchester reflect her determination in life to overcome adversity and in the process inspire us all," said Van Schalkwyk.

He said the Provincial Honours Act made provision for the recognition of individuals who have accomplished exceptional achievements or rendered remarkable meritorious service in the interests of the province.

"The Western Cape is the only province thus far to do so," Van Schalkwyk said.