I write this having just said goodbye to the producer and camera crew of the TV show “Inside Edition.” They contacted me a few weeks ago, asking for an interview about my biomechanics research on local weightlifter CJ Cummings.
This phenomenal athlete is considered the strongest 14-year-old in the world. I have been interested for years, in how he lifts the weight he does and I was honored that my research at Armstrong was recently highlighted in the Washington Post.
Sure, it was fun to have the TV show here, but getting national publicity was and is never my goal. My interest in CJ is not because he was the first 11-year-old to perform a clean-and-jerk (lifting a weight from the ground to shoulders and then overhead) with double bodyweight in history.
My interest in CJ is not that he has shattered every record he has ever encountered, or that he holds every record in five different weight classes and bodyweight categories.
My research on CJ does not stem from the fact that at age 12, CJ was the youngest lifter to ever represent the U.S. at an international weightlifting meet, or that he is the best chance for an American gold medal in weightlifting in the Olympics for the next 20 years.
It also is not the result of the fact that CJ recently broke the all-time men’s clean-and-jerk American record, putting 337 pounds over his head weighing 135 pounds and having just turned 14.
To say CJ is a rarity would be incorrect as it would imply we have seen such strength and power in a youth before. We haven’t.
My interest in this phenomenon is because when I got a chance to sit with him a few years ago, I asked him why he thinks he can lift the weight he does. He looked right at me, and without batting an eye, said, “All this is a gift from God.” And CJ had no idea I was a pastor.
And Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
We will all be hearing a lot about CJ Cummings in years to come. But keep in mind the most impressive thong about him is his faith. Thank God for that, and thank his parents and coaches too, who have instilled that faith in him with the help of our Lord.
The Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi, installed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Springfield.