Beaufort boy ready to take on world's best at youth weightlifting event

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comApril 3, 2013 

The work is done. This is the fun part.

Clarence Cummings Jr., at 12 years old, is the youngest to qualify for the International Weightlifting Federation Youth World Championships, which starts April 8 in Uzbekistan. The Beaufort resident earned a spot on the eight-person U.S. boys team with his performance at the National Junior Weightlifting Championships in San Francisco in February.

Cummings is the top-ranked lifter on the 17-and-under team. But now the competition takes a backseat to the experience.

At previous meets, Cummings has toured New Orleans and visited The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. In Uzbekistan, Cummings plans to ride roller coasters and meet new teammates.

"We just like to explore," Cummings said.

Cummings, who lifts for Team Savannah and under coach Ray Jones at Beaufort Middle School, lifted 194 pounds on the snatch. In the clean and jerk, he lifted 258 pounds -- more than twice his 122-pound body weight.

Cummings' brother, Omar, earned an alternate spot on the U.S. team but won't travel to Uzbekistan.

C.J. has lifted with Jones close to three years. He lifted 238 pounds in clean and jerk at the American Open this past December, improving 20 pounds the next two months.

He said competition with his brother helps both.

"I try to beat him, and he tries to beat me at the same time," C.J. said. "It's encouraging us to do better."

Team Savannah coach Michael Cohen, who coached past U.S. Junior champion and two-time Olympian Oscar Chaplin, said C.J. is far ahead of where Chaplin was at the same age.

"C.J. is probably 100 pounds stronger than Oscar was at that age," Cohen said during a presentation to Beaufort-area businesses to raise money for Team Savannah and its Beaufort offshoot. "He's got all the tools to be successful. He's got power, speed and a great mind for weight lifting. He's not scared of anything."

Jones will coach the U.S. team. He said the trip is about fun, after all the work at Beaufort Middle.

He predicts bigger things from Omar with more time to develop. And for C.J., the bar is set.

"C.J. is off the charts," Jones said. "Everything he does, he's setting history."


What: Beaufort resident C.J. Cummings will compete in an international weightlifting competition. He is the youngest lifter to qualify for the meet and is the top-ranked lifter from the U.S. team.

When: April 8-11

Where: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Details: Cummings qualified at National Junior Weightlifting Championships in February. He lifted 264 pounds in the clean and jerk and 194 pounds in the snatch.

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