“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that, once ignorance is put aside, that wonderment would be taken away, which is the only means by which their authority is preserved.”
― Baruch Spinoza,
I was sitting in my office, at my desk, streaming the Junior World Weightlifting Championships on a monitor. CJ Cummings’ heat (69kg) was up. As a sport we are aware of this boy’s potential. We are aware of what he CAN do, having watched him fall just short at Senior World’s just months before…. Not this time. Today was CJ’s day. I watched, in awe, as he shattered 3 world records and tied a 4th national record in just 2 lifts, taking Gold at the Junior World Championships. Something an American hasn’t done in 16 years.
He broke the Clean and Jerk World record at 175kg and then broke his own record with a 5kg jump to 180kg! At that moment he broke the Clean and Jerk Junior world record twice, the Junior Total record for 69kg, and tied the Senior American National record. I literally screamed and jumped out of my seat when I watched it happening. My office looked at me like, “what the hell is he doing? Freak.” At that moment thought I knew I wasn’t alone. After watching the Weightlifting world set ablaze by this amazing athlete… I couldn’t help but feel a very somber feeling sweep over me. CJ is now known, more than ever, at a world stage.
Everything, if it hasn’t already, is now coming at this young boy. Not even old enough to register for the draft and is now just old enough to earn his license… is shattering world records. Companies want to promote/sponsor him, he’s being groomed for the Olympics, approached by every team and coach from Alaska to Florida, recruiters for various sports all over the country, offered money… people trying to use him, racism, bureaucratic espionage, scandals, money, women, power…. It is all coming his way.
I couldn’t help to stop and think: This is on us, as a country. We need to support this boy. As I watch his videos he is a smiling, jovial, loving young boy. The worst thing we could do to him, and will inevitably happen, is try and transform him into our likeness. We will selfishly want him to do something for us… instead of letting him do this for him.
I began feeling sad… until I realized that it can be stopped. We don’t have to turn him in to Mike Tyson… we don’t have to let the Don Kings and “Jerry’s” in. We are his support. We are his nation. We are his team. At 16 he is full of idealism, hope, dreams, and the bravery of youth… and he is winning. He is the light. We need to support him. We need to cheer him on. We need to not shout hate, bigotry, instill doubt or fear, but give him hope and strength. We need to stop trying to take and use, but instead give and love.
Fortunately Cummings has a very competent coach who cares deeply for him. This is his vanguard. I listened to an interview where they interviewed his coach. They asked him about his aspirations for Rio 2016. His reply was: CJ is still a boy… lets not forget he is 16. He has so much time in front of him. 2016? Now 2020 is what we want to watch. This showed such a maturity and respect for CJ. Watching this duo fills me with joy. Here we are seeing interracial, generations apart, in SC… the home of one of the decade’s worst racial hate crimes. This speaks about the love that this sport can spread within a community. We can all take a page from this book and soak this in. The development and influence that Weightlifting has on CJ coupled with a supportive coach… if we can rally behind this boy and lay down our egos… we are looking at creating an unbeatable and awe-inspiring light in this world. This responsibility is completely on us. We are his support, we are his country, we are his heart… we are CJ Cummings.