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Weightlifter CJ Cummings adds to his American Open trophy haul

CJ Cummings prepares to lift during a recent workout at Crossfit in Beaufort.
CJ Cummings prepares to lift during a recent workout at Crossfit in Beaufort. sfastenau@beaufortgazette.com

In the luster of another record-setting performance at weightlifting’s American Open, CJ Cummings couldn’t leave town without accepting one more piece of hardware.

The Beaufort teen was named Best Male Lifter at the meet, which could become a frequent occurrence at the rate his career is taking off.

Cummings was the only lifter to break two senior American records during the weekend in Orlando, Fla., with new marks of 183 kilograms (403 pounds) in the clean and jerk and a total weight of 321 kg (707 pounds) as he dominated his weight class.

“This has nothing to do with age group,” coach Ray Jones said Tuesday. “It’s open to the best of the best that the United States has in weightlifting. ... People say he did a youth thing, that’s nice. But he’s beating men and (breaking) records that men hold.”

Cummings also set a personal best — and junior American record — with a lift of 138 kg (304 pounds) in the snatch. That leaves him just 2 kg shy of adding the only U.S. mark that he doesn’t currently hold.

“To think that we have a 16-year-old boy from Beaufort, South Carolina, that weighs 152 pounds,” Jones said, “and he’s (lifting) 403 pounds over his head from the floor. That’s pretty unbelievable.”

Though Cummings’ Orlando lifts surpassed his own youth and junior world records, Jones noted, they won’t be recognized as new marks there because the International Weightlifting Federation did not supply meet officials.

No matter. As far as Cummings and Jones are concerned, it’s full steam ahead when the teenager next competes at the U.S. National Junior Championships in February.

“We’re not waiting on (the IWF),” Jones said. “We’re going to try to take it a little higher.”

Cummings’ next international competition figures to be the Youth World Championships, set for early April in Thailand. The Junior Pan Ams follow at the end of that month in Ecuador.

Jones watched as Cummings’ profile continued to grow in Orlando, as fellow competitors and fans got to see the prodigy that has given U.S. weightlifting a foothold on the world stage again.

“They see someone that’s doing these unbelievable lifts and part of the United States team internationally,” the coach said. “They see that he’s (won) these gold medals at the Junior Worlds and Youth Worlds — there’s a lot of pride going on.”

The weekend also saw one of Cummings’ Team Beaufort teammates place well. Braylin Young took second in the 85kg youth division, posting a total weight of 218 kg (480 pounds).

Jeff Shain: 843-706-8123, @jeffshain