Chris Pillay, a South African bodybuilder died from Covid-19 related complications. Picture: Supplied
Chris Pillay, a South African bodybuilder died from Covid-19 related complications. Picture: Supplied

Covid-19 claims the life of SA body builder Chris Pillay

By Nadia Khan Time of article published Jan 28, 2021

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Durban - Chris Pillay, a professional bodybuilder, took pride in his health and well-being.

On Saturday, the 50-year-old Clare Estate personal trainer and co-owner of the Body Guru Gym in uMhlanga, died in hospital.

Abhir Dayaram, a friend and the gym co-owner, said Pillay tested positive for Covid-19 on December 26 and then admitted to St Augustine's Hospital.

"He had a fever and he had picked up a chest infection. After two weeks in the hospital, he died on Saturday."

Dayaram said Pillay was often referred to as the “GOAT”(the greatest of all time) of South African bodybuilding.

“However, he would never acknowledge that. Chris was one of the first Indian personal trainers in Durban. His business acumen led to him co-owning the gym and he was committed to the long-term success of the business. He put in heart and soul, to ensure the best training experience for his clients.”

Dayaram said Pillay was also a multiple South African bodybuilding champion and he excelled internationally.

"As a sportsman, he was one of the best bodybuilders in the country. Chris was a thriving competitive athlete and he aimed to represent South Africa at the world championships which he had done 12 times. He also represented the country twice at the WPF Universe championships and was placed in the Top 15, the Top 10 and the Top 6 at the IFBB World championships over the years.

“His passion lay with his goals for his clients. He was committed to the success of others and selflessly ensured his sportsmen were prepared to the highest standard and he thus produced multiple South African champions. These athletes then went on to represent our country at the IFBB World Championships."

He said Pillay was kind, humble and selfless.

"He was a true leader and he showed us the true definition of a champion. Chris was the most humble, soft-spoken and big-hearted person we knew. His relationship with bodybuilding athletes, personal training clients and trainers in the country was nothing less than loving and respectful. He was a living legend, a father, a friend and a brother to many of us.

"We recently celebrated his 50th birthday with a few friends. It is hard to believe that he is no more. His unconditional love and dedication to his kids was known to all. He was a devoted father and he often tutored his children to ensure their success in school. They were his pride and joy. We hope to carry on his legacy at the gym – never to be forgotten but rather as an inspiration to us all."

In a joint comment, Pillay's friends and fellow body builders, Lyle Singh, Mario van Biljon and Ari Nikolopolus, said: "He was humble, respectful, kind and compassionate. He always made those around him feel comfortable in his presence, showing patience and respect to everyone he encountered.

"As a competitive bodybuilder, Chris was a true stalwart of the South African bodybuilding community and he was one the most successful and well-respected athletes South Africa has produced. He was a mentor and an inspiration for all athletes who knew him. His spirit and his legacy will always be synonymous with greatness."

Pillay was cremated at the Clare Estate Crematorium on Monday. He leaves his wife, Aneesa, two children, Shyla and Minal, and five siblings.

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