At the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, 21-year-old weightlifter Clarence “CJ” Cummings Jr. will represent Team USA in the 73-kilogram weight class. Cummings trains at The Foundry — a gym located in Beaufort, SC, where Cummings is originally from. Cummings first foray into weightlifting came before his teenage years, after seeing his older sister, Crystal, train in the gym.
At age 12, Cummings competed — and medaled — in sanctioned weightlifting competitions. He earned a silver medal at the 2012 American Open Weightlifting Championships in the 56-kilogram class. In the nine years since that event, he has racked up nearly two dozen American records in the Youth, Junior, and Senior divisions across four weight classes, is a former Junior world record holder, and is a four-time Junior Weightlifting World Champion (2016-2019). According to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Cummings is ranked third globally in the 73-kilogram class.
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Cummings has been in the top tier of American weightlifters in each division he’s competed in since he first stepped on a competitive platform as a Youth competitor. His list of accomplishments in the sport is extensive and includes four consecutive IWF Junior World Championships victories (2016-2018 at 69-kilograms and 2019 at 73 kilograms).
Despite only being 21 years old, he currently holds all three Junior Pan American records at 73-kilograms and 23 American records — 17 Youth American records and all six records in 73-kilogram class for both Junior and Senior divisions:
Cummings scored the snatch American record listed above at the 2020 Pan American Championships.
Cummings set all three of the current Junior American records at the 2019 Junior Pan American Championships.
Cummings’ training leading up to the Tokyo Games has shown that he can lift beyond his current American records. On Oct. 3, 2020, he clean & jerked 195 kilograms (429.9 pounds) and stabilized the weight overhead for four seconds. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cummings swept silver at the 2019 IWF Grand Prix.
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Here are all the athletes competing in the 73-kilogram class at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games:
The favorite on this list heading into Tokyo is the 2016 Rio Olympic Games gold medalist in the 69-kilogram class, Shi Zhiyong of China (the IWF approved new weightlifting categories in 2018). In addition to three IWF World Championships titles (2015, 2018-19) and four Asian Championships titles (2012, 2016, 2019, 2020), he currently holds all three world records in the 73-kilogram class:
Zhiyong has already proven that he can beat the clean & jerk world record, as he did at the 2020 Chinese National Championships, with a 199-kilogram lift. The only other competitor to finish in the top 10 in the 69-kilogram class at the Rio Games competing in Tokyo are Briken Calja, who ranked fifth, and David Sanchez Lopez, who ranked 10th.
Although besting Zhiyong seems like a near-impossible task, judging by the current IWF rankings heading into the Tokyo Games, Cummings does have a strong shot at reaching the podium:
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Groups B and A of the Men’s 73-kilogram weight class will be the 11th and 12th weightlifting sessions, respectively, to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. They are both scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, 2021 — Group B at 12:50 a.m. EST and Group A at 6:50 a.m. EST.
Cummings’ current competition best lifts are less than what he has proven he can in his training for the Tokyo Games. Based on the roster in the 73-kilogram class headed to Tokyo, Cummings has a strong chance of bringing a medal back home to the USA. To challenge Shi Zhiyong for the top of the podium, he will almost certainly have to post the highest total of his weightlifting career.
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Feature Image Courtesy of USA Weightlifting
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