America’s Strongest Teenager: Olympic Weightlifter CJ Cummings

The state of South Carolina is home to the Muscle & Strength Headquarters.

It is also home, appropriately so, to America’s strongest teenager: CJ Cummings.

At the young age of 15, CJ has taken the world of Olympic Weightlifting by storm.

Already showcasing elite strength at such a young age, it’s no wonder those in the Olympic weightlifting community feel confident that CJ will end an Olympic medal drought (if USA comes away empty-handed in Rio) for the male division of Team USA. This Olympic medal drought has lasted since 1984.

With greatness comes associations to other historical entities of the sport’s world. Some have even gone as far to say CJ is the Lebron James AND Michael Jordan of Olympic Weightlifting.

Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to travel to Beaufort, SC to meet CJ Cummings. We sat down with both CJ and his coach Ray Jones to discuss CJ’s training, accomplishments, and future goals.

As Ray Jones recalls, everyone pretty much knew something was special about CJ early on. CJ started weightlifting at age 10. At age 11, CJ completed an approximate 198.4lb clean and jerk, which at the time was double his bodyweight. It was in that moment CJ’s weightlifting career really began to skyrocket.

Ray is the head coach for Team Beaufort Weightlifting, which is a satellite program for Team Savannah. He currently trains his athlete’s at Crossfit Beaufort in South Carolina. The team has had exceptional lifters who have competed internationally in the past. However, with a slight smile Ray states, “CJ’s even a little bit more different than that”.

CJ still remembers what drew him into Olympic weightlifting at such a young age. In the summer of 2010, a 10 year old CJ Cummings walked into the gym and saw a people lifting a bunch of big weight. Impressed by their strength, CJ began to strive to be as strong as those athletes.

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CJ played football and basketball (could you imagine your childhood-self trying to keep pace?), but stopped, because he liked weightlifting better.

CJ’s favorite lift is the clean and jerk. His reason behind why is because the clean and jerk is a two-step movement. If you mess up in the beginning, you can still recover the lift.

Ray states, in order to really gauge an Olympic lifter, you have to give them about 5 years to see what they can really do. CJ already has an edge on most lifters, having started at such a young age. Not to mention that in his 5 years, CJ has progressed tremendously. On August 14th of this past year, CJ won gold in Dallas, Texas with an overall total of 674lbs.

CJ’s best snatch is 134 kilos (~295.4lbs), his best clean and jerk is 175 kilos (~385.8lbs), and he only weighs 151lbs. He is currently the American record holder for the clean and jerk (makes sense why it is his favorite lift). CJ is constantly breaking personal records. If he continues to do so, the sky is truly the limit for this young athlete.

As Ray mentioned, it takes 5 years to see if an Olympic lifter is cut out for the sport. CJ is already leaps and bounds ahead of his competition at his age and often competes against athletes much older than he is.

With 4 years to go before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, CJ is on pace to be a true competitor, and likely, an all-time great.

We’d like to thank Ray and CJ for letting us come out to spend the day with them and see how the impressive teenager trains.

We wish CJ nothing but the best in his future Olympic runs!

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