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MBABANE – They hoisted the kingdom’s flag on the continental stage.

Exceptional display of fitness and power in the Arnold Classic Africa 2022 stage saw Eswatini’s bodybuilding goddess Mpumie Dlamini and national icon Simanga Maziya win big in their categories. The two bodybuilders are products of the Fitness Zone Gym in Ezulwini under coach Jack Vander-Zandt. The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport festival with more than 25 000 participants competing in over 90 sports and events internationally, including bodybuilding. The event was founded by American actor and former governor of Carlifornia, Arnold Schwarzenegger four years ago. They qualified for the competition during the Sun Fest Qualifiers, that were also held in Johannesburg. The 25-year-old body-builder was placed third against eight other contestants in the Under-166 centimetre Ladies Wellness division. Maziya was also placed third in a battle of the big guns, who competed in the Under-85kg Masters Bodybuilding as well as the Over-40 years category.

Speaking of her experience and achievement, Dlamini said, being on stage with other ladies in bikinis, helped her to gain more confidence. “I learnt a lot of pointers which I will use to train my clients and improve myself as an athlete. Thank you to my coach who helped me discover my bodybuilding passion and supported me through training. He is passionate about the sport and I believe that he also achieved his goal in me by producing a jewel from the tiny kingdom of Eswatini,” she said.


The veteran bodybuilder in Maziya, on the other hand, highlighted the challenges he faced due to the absence of a bodybuilding association in the country, as he was compelled to register and compete under the South African Bodybuilding Federation. He urged local bodybuilders to unite and form an association that would affiliate with the Eswatini Sports and Recreation Council (ESRC) in order to help local bodybuilders to compete on the international stages under the Eswatini banner. “We need to have a federation;  form a committee;  and affiliate with the Sports Council, if we want to take bodybuilding forward. I had my Eswatini flag but could not wear it on the stage because I was registered as Simanga Maziya, a bodybuilder from South Africa. It’s frustrating and we need to fix this now for a better future,” Maziya said. The athletes thanked everyone who supported them financially and otherwise including Emlembe Water, the Fitness Zone Gym and individual sponsors.

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