Mind over matter for champion lifter

Joshua van Staden showcasing ability in disability. The young lifter defied all odds, showing others how its done.

A young Cape Town Athlete,
who was born with dwarfism, started turning into a
lockdown couch potato, but now
he’s got his mojo back, and he’s
helping others by showing them
how he did it. 

Joshua van Staden, 19, got into
sport through swimming at Vista
Nova High School. 

After high
school, he was introduced to field
events and fell in love with shot put
and javelin. 
In 2019, he represented South
Africa at the World Para Athletics
Junior Championships in Nottwil,
Switzerland, and brought home a
silver medal. 
Van Staden was also awarded
Junior Para Athlete of the Year in
2019 by Cape Winelands, and all
his achievements earned him a
bursary to Stellenbosch University,
where he’s a first-year theology
This July, he was supposed to
have gone to Germany to compete
in the Para Athletics championships, but Covid-19 stopped that,
and instead, during lockdown,
Joshua found himself sitting at
home and gaining a lot of weight.
It came to a point, he says, that he
realised he had to take action. 
“I got emotional because I felt
this was too much. Athletics was
my escape from the realities I face
in the world,
“It gave me a sense of pride.
Now the world is basically on
pause, so it’s either I evolve or stay
the same person.” 
He challenged himself to start
getting fit again.
He went on Facebook, looking
for exercises to suit his workout
“It started with push-ups and
with doing social media fitness
challenges,” says Joshua, who has
shed 15kg in the past two months.
“I know other people who are
dwarfs, and I know a lot of people
with disabilities,” he says, “but not
many of them are active because of
the way they perceive their disability as something that weighs them
down, not something they can use
to set them free.” 
During his transformation,
Joshua decided to share his workout videos on Facebook to help
others who might have let themselves go during the lockdown.