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CJ Cummings

He’s still only 21 years old, but weightlifting phenom and 2021 Olympian Clarence Cummings, Jr. (aka CJ) has been making headlines and breaking records for an entire decade.

At 11, the South Carolina native became the youngest lifter ever to complete a clean & jerk of twice his body weight (200 LBS). Two years later, USA Weightlifting called him the “strongest 13 year-old in the world.” And by the age of 16, CJ was completely dominating the 69kg weight class with five 1st Overall finishes at major youth and junior competitions.

With three Junior World Championships and a pile of records already to his credit heading into 2019, Cummings somehow managed to shift into yet another gear, breaking 15 records in the 73kg weight class during just one day alone at the Pan-American Games in Guatemala City, then racking up Junior Championship No. 4 later that year in Fiji (something no athlete had ever done before).

At last count, Cummings had set an incredible 32 American weightlifing records in total, 23 of which he was still holding in the summer of 2021. During his Olympic debut in Tokyo that same summer, CJ was the youngest competitor in his weight class (73kg) and the youngest member of the U.S. team in 20 years. He is the face of a new generation in the sport, and the center of a new movement in USA Weightlifting, which sent a full squad of four men and four women to the Olympics for the first time since 1996.

“I think this is just the beginning for USA Weightlifting,” CJ said after Tokyo. “We’re going to show our true strengths and show how strong we are as a nation. . . . You’re going to have some ups and downs, but it’s how you grow and move forward that determines who we are.”