Locals in top-five at World event


Two Grahamstown body builders returned from the world championships this week, both finishing in the top five in their respective categories.

Asaphila Zani finished second in the U25 category. Photo: Stephen Penney

Makana Natural Bodybuilding Club members Lesley Sauls and Asaphila Zani represented South Africa at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships which took place in Bordeaux, France from 24-25 November. The two Grahamstown-based competitors qualified by virtue of their impressive displays at the South African Natural Bodybuilding Championships in Bellville on 30 September.

It was beginners luck for Zani, who took part in his first World championship event, finishing second in the newly formed U25 category. He competed in the under 75kg section. The U25 section was introduced as it is a big gap for athletes to compete in the junior level the one year and then get into straight the senior category the next year.

Sauls was fourth in the senior under 65kg line-up, although he had his sights set on winning the title going into the event.

“I think I should have placed higher, but even fourth is an achievement,” Sauls said. While he may not have won gold, Sauls returned home with a finisher’s medal as well as a gold medal, handed to him by a master’s winner, who felt that Sauls deserved a higher placing than his fourth.

Lesley Sauls finished fourth at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in France. Photo: Stephen Penney

Zani said he was “really, really happy and honoured, because it was my first world championship”. Zani set a top-six finish as his goal, “so second is something else.” Zani said he always sets goals for himself and competes against himself. To get to the world champs he finished second in the senior under 75kg. He then represented EP at the SA champs where he again took second spot in the same senior category.

Zani thanked the Grahamstown and Rhodes University community for helping him raise funds for French trip. He  said that while he was still young and new to the body building world he would continue to train hard and learn more about his body and which areas to focus more on.

As for Sauls, he will first take some time off from training before taking another go for gold at the World Championships. “I feel I need to go back and claim the world championship title,” he said. Sauls thanked everyone who contributed to making his world championship tour possible, “thank you for believing in me.”

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