Lifting to Olympian Success
August 2021 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen Photography by Lifting Life @lifting.life
Can you imagine being 13 years old and named the strongest 13-year-old boy in the world? That’s a wonderful “insurance policy” for getting through middle school. But CJ Cummings’ strength isn’t the only ingredient in the secret to his success. Endurance, skill, focus, dedication, gratitude and drive are just a few attributes CJ has clipped to his weightlifting belt loops along his journey to get where he strongly stands today—a USA Olympian. Look for CJ as one of the members of the USA Weightlifting Team.
From the age of 10 years old, Clarence Junior, “CJ”, knew he was made for success. Growing up in Beaufort, CJ was just pretty much like any other little boy except for what was inside him—immense drive. At such a young age, he didn’t know that his drive would propel him to the top, but when his passion met his athleticism, extraordinary things began to happen.
CJ’s love for weightlifting didn’t pop out of nowhere. His older sister (by 12 years) was a weightlifter, and he and his brother were introduced to the sport while watching her work out and train in the gym. Building his stamina and strength throughout his youth, he began to compete in weightlifting events around the country, gaining titles, beating records and keeping faith in himself that he would succeed.
At only 15 years old, an extraordinary chance opened and the 2016 Rio Olympics became a contingency for him. After lifting his way to promising prestige, he competed for a spot on the 2016 USA Weightlifting team but didn’t qualify. Defeat didn’t make CJ pump the brakes, though. He pressed on. In fact, his drive and determination grew larger, accelerating himself further than ever before, continuing to break national and world records.
At the beginning of 2019, CJ reflected on his weightlifting career and humbly realized he was at the top. “I kept improving little by little, day-by-day, and I just took a look at where I was physically and mentally in my sport and realized, I am not just good, I am excellent,” CJ explained. With his competitive spirit and dedication buzzing with this realization, CJ decided to pursue his biggest dream again, and this time, he made it! CJ is competing as the only American male out of 14 contestants in the Men’s 73kg Olympic event. With all his fellow South Carolinians and the whole Nation behind him, he will hopefully take home the Gold!
“I am most excited about the reality of being able to compete in the world’s biggest sporting event and meeting everyone, seeing others passion and dedication for their sport,” CJ said. “I fought to be where I am today both mentally and physically. It takes about 60% mental and about 40% physical to thrive at what I do. My biggest obstacle is the mental battle. I have to have complete faith in myself and not doubt that I can do whatever I set my mind to do,” CJ added.
His family and friends have always been in his corner, cheering him on consistently. CJ’s coach, Ray Jones, has been standing by his side since the beginning and is one of his biggest fans. “My friends and family are so excited and so proud of what I am doing and achieving. They are so excited about how huge of an accomplishment this is. I am representing where I came from and who raised me, and I am just so ecstatic.” CJ said.
“Not only have my friends supported me, but just last week, I was in the grocery store and someone stopped me, wished me good luck and went on their way. It’s great to see how strong the community is in Beaufort and to see that I have fans all around me,” CJ said.
CJ is an incredible young man. Funny, grateful, kind and talented, his awesome personality carries him beyond weightlifting. Not to spill the beans, but he also has plans to pursue an acting career and works on his lines and moves while not training. In addition to CJ’s braun, there is also a businessman brain. This straight-A student is interested in learning more about real estate investing and possibly making a career out of it, as well. With olympian discipline, CJ is sure to excel in his pursuits.
“Life is a marathon, make it feel natural. Find what you love and stick with it. That’s what I am doing, and I had no clue I could get to where I am today. Just remember, anything is possible if you work hard, have dedication and be who you are.”
Strongest 13 Year Old in the World: At age 13, Cummings was awarded the title of Best Overall Lifter at the 2013 Youth Pan Americans and set Pan American records in the 15 & under category. As a result of these accomplishments, USA Weightlifting declared CJ Cummings “the strongest 13 year-old in the world.”
Record Breaker—A few records CJ has in the books are:
• Senior Men’s 73kg total in the Pan American Records. (This will also be the event CJ will compete in at the
• Junior Men’s 73kg total in the World Records
• Senior Men’s 73kg total in American Records.
73kg Total means it is the sum of your clean and jerk and your snatch. Clean and Jerk is a two movement lift. One to your chest and then over your head. A Snatch is one movement from the floor to over your head.