Gift from God? Science can't explain weightlifting talents of Beaufort's C.J. Cummings

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comJune 7, 2014 

Star 13-year-old weightlifter C.J. Cummings push presses 200 pounds as he practices up on Wednesday for his upcoming appearance at the USA Weightlifting Youth Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr

The curiosity got the best of Bob LeFavi.

He became one of many who wonder how Beaufort's C.J. Cummings lifts the weight he does.

The 13-year-old can clean and jerk more than twice his body weight. He holds records in five different age and weight categories.

LeFavi, a professor of health sciences at Armstrong Atlantic University, brought Cummings to the school's Biodynamics and Human Performance Center earlier this year to try and explain Cummings' ability.

LeFavi is a USA Weightlifting coach with a Ph.D. from the department of Health and Human Performance at Auburn University and participates with Team Savannah, the parent club of Team Beaufort. A concrete analysis of Cummings' success eludes him.

"Certainly, C.J. has a weightlifter's structure and a somewhat unique technique, but absolutely nothing that could possibly account for his sheer dominance and extraordinary ability," LeFavi said. "My guess is that something is going on with his muscle cell structure that we have not seen much before."

Cummings will have a chance to showcase his rare ability again this week at the USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships, which begin Thursday near Daytona Beach, Fla.

Cummings should again breeze to victory, despite wrestling up a weight class to help his team.

No competitors his age approach the weight he lifts, and Cummings has aimed for the men's record in his weight class -- 152 1/2 kilograms.

Cummings' lifts cause a stir at meets and his performances command thousands of views on YouTube, along with incredulous comments.

"I just keep it in perspective and mainly go out there and have fun, basically," Cummings said this week while training at Beaufort Middle School.

Cummings will be a freshman at Beaufort High School in the fall. He most recently lifted 145 kilograms -- or about 320 pounds -- at the Youth Pan American Championships in May. Cummings' coach, Ray Jones, believes Cummings could break the men's record in July at the USA Weightlifting National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah.

There Cummings will compete against men of all ages in his weight class, less than 136 pounds.

Jones wants to move in stages. The 145 kilogram lift he thinks could have been 148 or 149, but Cummings might inch up this week in Florida and then take the bigger step at nationals in Utah.

"He's 13, so I'm not trying to push everything all at once," Jones said.

Cummings' role this week won't be record-breaker. He will lift a class above to try and help win a seventh team title for Team Savannah at the National Youth Championships. The group includes Cummings' older brother, Omar.

Jones is worried about the depth from a team from California and said a few others should be competitive.

He doesn't have to tell meet officials about his plan for C.J. until a meeting Thursday. He hopes they don't read this.

But there is little opposing coaches can do to offset C.J.'s advantage.

At Armstrong, LeFavi had Cummings hooked to electrodes, standing on a pressure plate with cameras at all angles, Jones said.

Jones said Cummings' ability might not be explained by science, that he has a God-given gift.

"They can't wrap their head around why can this kid do the things that he's doing," Jones said. "Because it's never been done before."

Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships

Thursday-Sunday, Hawk Arena, Spruce Creek High School, Port Orange, Fla.

Watch Live: http://www.teamusa.org/usa-weightlifting/LIVE

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