Beaufort’s C.J. Cummings finished ninth in the 73-kilogram weight class at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by by Stephen Galvan/International Weightlifting Federation.

Beaufort’s Cummings finishes 9th in Olympic debut

Weightlifter will regroup, begin training for November’s World Championships

By Mike McCombs

It was a disappointing performance last week for Beaufort’s C.J. Cummings in his Olympic debut, but he’s taking in stride.

The 21 year old finished ninth in the 73-kilogram weight class Wednesday, July 28 at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, making just two of six lifts for an overall total of 325 kg.

“It was the first time for me being on this stage, and I learned from the experience,” Cummings said Monday from Hawaii, where he is taking a break with his family. “I put a lot a lot of pressure on myself, but I realize it’s really just like any other competition.”

Despite his struggles, Cummings’ coach, Ray Jones, made sure everyone knew he was proud of his star pupil.

“I AM ‘ALWAYS’ PROUD OF MY BOY,” Jones texted The Island News immediately following the competition. “With struggles in sport, as in life, they give you the chance to demonstrate your true inner strength and character.”

Cummings definitely struggled in the Snatch, making just his second attempt at 145 kg, which was initially ruled “no lift” before an appeal to the jury of judges. That put him last place in Group A headed into the Clean & Jerk.

After a solid lift at 180 kg, Cummings was forced into two much heavier lifts at 190 and 198 kg in an effort to stay in medal contention. The latter would have been an Olympic record in the Clean & Jerk.

China’s Zhiyong Shi later made the same lift giving him the Olympic record, the gold medal and a new world record with an overall total of 364 kg. Shi, who won in dominating fashion, also set the Olympic record in the Snatch at 366 kg.

Julio Ruben Mayora Pernia of Venezuela won silver (346), and Indonesia’s Rahmat Erwin Abdullah claimed bronze (342) out of the B group.

Cummings’ family and friends watched, along with fans and members of the local media, at Carolina Sportscare and Physical Therapy in Beaufort. There was a second watch party at The Foundry where Cummings trains with Jones.

Cummings said he didn’t get to see much of Japan at all – the Olympic village, the training facility, the dining hall, “that’s it. But the village was pretty unique, and I got to see the other countries and their athletes.”

Members of Cummings’ family traveled to Hawaii to greet the Beaufort High School graduate as he returned from Tokyo. Cummings will head to Colorado next week for a USA Weightlifting function before a serious return to training afterward.

“I’ll just probably get back to the routine – basics, technique and build from there,” Cummings said. “The World Championships are in November.”

Cummings said when he returns – hopefully – to the Olympics in 2024 in Paris, he’ll know better what to expect.

“I just have to keep everything in perspective,” Cummings said. “I’ve been here before.”

“The next step is to step back and process,” Jones said. “C.J. wanted and expected more of himself, and we all know he can do so much more. He’s relatively young as most lifters peak around 27. This is a defining moment for him, and he gets to choose what he makes of it.”

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

Photo caption: Beaufort’s C.J. Cummings finished ninth in the 73-kilogram weight class at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by by Stephen Galvan/International Weightlifting Federation.

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