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Du Toit claims 12th swimming gold at Paralympics

LONDON -- Paralympics swimming star Natalie du Toit won her second gold medal of the London 2012 Games as she won the women's S9 400-meter freestyle at the Aquatics Centre on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old South African won her 12th career gold in a time of 4:30.18, nearly 10 seconds ahead of Britain's Stephanie Millward and Australia's Ellie Cole, who set new European and Oceanian records respectively for the silver and bronze medals.

She was one of several stars who successfully defended their Beijing 2008 golds on a busy night in the pool, including China's Xu Qing, Mirjam de Koning-Peper of the Netherlands, Britain's Heather Frederiksen and Konstantin Lisenkov of Russia.

Du Toit dedicated her victory to Cathy Doyle, the Central Gauteng Aquatics president who died in January following a long illness.

“That race was for Cathy Doyle. She was our CGA president. She passed away a few months ago. She was supposed to be officiating tonight,” said the 28-year-old, who is competing in her final Paralympics.

“Because she has done so much for me in my life, I just want to dedicate this medal to her and her family. Thank you to them.

“She was at the world championships (2010) on the side of the pool. Sometimes I try and picture her sitting on the chair. That was the whole idea for the 400m freestyle, to swim that for her.

“This was one of the safe races. The longer the distance, the better for me. I start getting my stride and I start pulling away.”

Australia's Jacqueline Freney on Tuesday won her sixth title of the Games, joining her idol Siobhan Paton as a six-time Paralympic gold medalist at a single competition.

The 20-year-old took the women's S7 50m freestyle crown in a Paralympic best of 32.63 seconds after lowering the previous record in the morning heats. The United States' Cortney Jordan won silver, with Ani Palian of Ukraine in bronze.

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 'Blade Runner' returns to defend 100m gold medal 
South Africa's Natalie du Toit competes during the women's S9 400-meter freestyle heats swimming event during the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park in east London on Tuesday, Sept. 4. (AFP)

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