By Mike McCombs
When C.J. Cummings competes in the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo next month, he won’t be the Beaufort-trained weightlifter representing his country in Japan.
Lebanese-born Mahassen Hala, who also trains with Coach Ray Jones and Team Beaufort at the Foundry, will be the first female to represent her country in weightlifting in the Olympic Games.
“TOKYO 2021 It’s official! In 43 days I will become the first female weightlifter in the Lebanon’s history to compete at the Olympic Games,” Hala posted on her Facebook page shortly after 8 a.m., Thursday, June 10. “I am at a loss for words, but am filled with gratitude for so many people who have supported me and played a role in getting to this moment. Thank you all!”
Hala, who has been lifting since 2004, made the decision in 2017 to move from Beruit to Beaufort with her husband, Ryan Paiva, to train full time with Coach Jones to prepare for the 2017 World Championships, where she turned in a top-10 finish.
“Coach Ray has been a game changer for me and my career,” Hala said in a 2019 interview with abouther.com. “Not only have I gotten stronger, I have remained injury free. It is a difficult sacrifice to live away from my husband who I see for only a few days each month, but we are both very committed to each other and our dream.”