Teen bodybuilder wins gold in world champs in Germany

Umhlanga resident Erian Moodley with his just rewards after the tournament.

Umhlanga resident Erian Moodley with his just rewards after the tournament.

Published Nov 20, 2023


Durban — A Durban teenager with cerebral palsy has clinched gold in Germany after showing off his physique as a bodybuilder.

Erian Cole Moodley, 15, represented South Africa in the physically challenged category at the World Fitness Federation (WFF) World Championships in Germany.

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. Erian has stiff muscles, known as spasticity. It also affects the muscle tone in his face, affecting his speech.

Moodley, from Umhlanga, was among six people who represented the country in different categories at the championship.

He said he was proud of his achievement.

“The opportunity was so great. I am the living embodiment of hope. I love showing off. I feel powerful on stage and excited to be in the spotlight,” said Moodley, who is in Grade 8.

He said he wanted to give hope to youngsters like himself.

He said growing up was challenging for him because people got impatient when he spoke and did not listen to him. He said bodybuilding had given him a stage where he was able to shine.

Umhlanga resident Erian Moodley.

His message to other physically challenged individuals was to never give up.

“Be your own role model. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a blueprint for his life. He was born poor and decided that bodybuilding was going to take him to the US.”

Moodley was diagnosed at the age of 6.

“From the age of 1 we noticed his developmental delays in terms of crawling, walking and talking like his peer group, but medical professionals said these were developmental delays.

“At 6 we had to choose a school and we could see learning delays. Out of desperation we found stem cell therapy treatment in Bangkok and we were hoping it would address some of his issues, but the neurosurgeons said because of his birth circumstances where he was deprived of oxygen for two hours, that he has cerebral palsy,” said his mother, Lyndall.

She said to increase the clarity in his speech, they sent him to a biokineticist.

“While training at the gym with his biokineticist, he was noticed by WFF KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Lyle Singh, who asked Erian about his interests and he said he would like to be a bodybuilder. Lyle approached us and said he thinks Erian has got what it takes.

“He was exposed to fitness from a young age, because of occupational and physiotherapy,” said Lyndall.

Umhlanga resident Erian Moodley with his just rewards after the tournament.

She was proud of his achievement.

"He is an example of perseverance, determination and faith. His body tells him to do one thing, but his mind is so determined to do something else. He is a blessing to us despite the challenges he has faced in life. He is now working towards representing SA at the world champs in Las Vegas," said Lyndall.

Singh said Moodley was chosen to be a part of SA team because of his very impressive performance at the South African Championships in September.

“He demonstrated sheer tenacity in his desire to improve his already impressive physique. His disability can affect muscle tone, but Erian definitely turned a weakness into a strength with his hard work ethic and passion for bodybuilding. He is a remarkable athlete in both body and spirit and a true example of a champion,” said Singh.

Sunday Tribune