USA Weightlifting Features Passing the Torch

Passing the Torch

By Kevin Farley | July 01, 2016, 12:24 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-- When Arthur Drechsler stepped off the platform at Junior Nationals in Brentwood, New York on May 16, 1970, he held three World Records.   

"I broke two World Records in the Press, 145kg then 150kg, then I broke the three lift total record by doing 450kg," Drechsler told USA Weightlifting.  

"Although no one knew it at the time, my lifts, very sadly, marked the end of an era in which male lifters from the US were breaking world records with regularity," Drechsler said.   

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the United States reclaimed the top of the podium and rewrote the World Record books. 16-year-old CJ Cummings set three World Records at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Junior World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.    

"(I felt) absolute joy. My wife and I were practically dancing around the house," Drechsler said of Cummings' performance.  

In Tbilisi, Cummings set a new World Record with a 175kg lift in the clean and jerk and then broke it again with a 180kg lift. Cummings claimed another youth World Record by lifting a total weight of 317kg.  

With that, Cummings became the first male American weightlifter to claim a World Record since Drechsler's dominant Saturday back in 1970.  

"It is a joy, and a relief, to hand that torch to CJ, who I hope and trust will be able to take in further than I did," Drechsler said.  

Cummings' performance signaled a seismic shift in the sport of Weightlifting in the United States.  

"CJ’s accomplishment was amazing on a myriad of levels," Drechsler said. "Those records are a testament to him personally. They are proof of his tremendous work ethic ,and, perhaps more importantly, to his courage. He gave up football and who knows what else to put in endless hours of focused effort in the gym."   

As USA Weightlifting continues to develop and support top-performing athletes, Drechsler recognizes the challenges American weightlifters face on the international stage.  

"I am second to none in sympathizing with our U.S. athletes who lift clean against many who aren’t and who train with little or nothing in the way of financial support," Drechsler said. "But while those are great obstacles, CJ has proven they are not insurmountable. And I’m sure he’d be the first to say to other US athletes 'Come join me – you can do it too.'"  

With membership within USA Weightlifting growing, Cummings' achievements can help inspire a new generation of weightlifters.  

"I came to believe two things early in my career that I think contributed to my success more than anything else," Drechsler said. "First, it was the total fidelity to the idea that breaking a world record was the most incredible achievement in all of sport. By the very act of setting a world record, performance the sport had been raised to a new level, showing others the way to even higher performance, and thereby making a permanent contribution to the sport."  

"Second, I believed I could do it. After all, it had been my good fortune to see other Americans break world records," Drechsler said. "The combination of absolute commitment and absolute belief driving appropriate training, gave a result that I had dreamed of for many years. It was a thrill I will never forget and my greatest hope is that more of our wonderful athletes will be able to savor such joys in connection with their ultimate goals, whatever they may be."  

Drechsler has this message for young weightlifters in America:  

"CJ has given us all a glimpse of what is possible; he has broken open the path," Drechsler said. "Now who among you have the magic combination of fidelity, vision and courage to join CJ in leading our country back to glory on the world stage? That is something for which all who have come before, and all who are yet to come, will be eternally grateful. I for one look forward to seeing it!"