By JUSTIN JARRET
For once, CJ Cummings didn’t capture gold. But he virtually guaranteed his spot in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Beaufort’s weightlifting wunderkind swept silver in a head-to-head showdown with Venezuela’s Julio Mayora on Sunday at the IWF Grand Prix in Lima, Peru.
The 19-year-old Cummings and the 23-year-old Mayora quickly separated themselves from the pack and engaged in a chess match across their six lifts, with each daring the other to put more weight on the bar.
Mayora forced the issue in the final round of the snatch, successfully lifting 154kg to force Cummings to make a run at breaking his own junior world record with a 155kg attempt.
The clean and jerk followed the same narrative, as the duo played a cat and mouse game in their first two lifts, with Cummings hitting 187 on his second attempt and Mayora following with 188.
Cummings made another run at his own junior world record in his final attempt but missed at 194, while Mayora missed his try at 192 but still claimed gold and swept the competition.
The two young stars of the weightlifting world embraced one another’s hands and lifted them high while standing on the podium after a great battle of strength. Cummings, the only junior in the competition, enjoyed the back and forth.
“For the most part, me and (Mayora) were calm, but it was like a battle of the coaches,” Cummings told weightlifting website BarBend. “They were strategizing on what they were going do, so I mean it was intense, but at the same time it was calm. So it was pretty cool.“
Despite falling short this weekend, Cummings is ranked second in the world in the 73kg weight class and almost guaranteed a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Now he can take a break from the busy competition schedule and begin preparing for his biggest stage yet.
“This year, my coach told me going in that I was going to be competing a lot because with me being a Junior and competing at so many competitions, that was to get the Robi points up, that’s why I was traveling this place and that place all year,” Cummings explains. “But now I can relax. I know all I have is the Junior Worlds next year, and that’s the only competition before the Olympics.”
Justin Jarrett is the editor of LowcountrySports.com and the sports editor of The Island News. Contact him at LowcoSports@gmail.com.