Many competitive weight lifters dream of standing on podiums and having gold medals placed around their necks.
Long County teen James Fox, 16, will get a chance to make that dream come true when he competes in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics beginning July 26 in New Orleans.
This isn’t the first time Fox has competed at the national level. Last year, he placed fourth in the AAU Junior Olympics in Virginia and earned a silver medal in the 2010 Georgia games in Atlanta.
“I had just started Olympic weight lifting last year when I competed in the Junior Olympics, so it was a good experience for me, but this year I want to do better,” Fox said.
He will compete in the clean and jerk and snatch lift. His best in the former is 95 kilos, or 210 pounds, while his top lift in the latter is 82 kilos, or 170 pounds.
Fox has been lifting since he was 12, he said, but only has been working on Olympic-style lifts for a little more than a year. His routine consists of going to the gym four days a week for at least two hours a day.
But Fox said he often trains twice a day, working on his weight lifting technique in Savannah and on his cardio fitness in Hinesville.
It’s clear he enjoys the sport.
“I’m more confident than I use to be; I’m more connected to it,” Fox said. “It’s my passion and it’s opened a whole new world to me.”
Fox said he credits his mother, Kathryn Fox, and coach Jenna Busssard for helping him reach his goals.
“I thank my mom for all of her support and also my coach,” he said.
Bussard is a coach for both Team Savannah and Team Hinesville.
“She put me in the mindset that I can do anything,” Fox said. “In weight lifting, the mental part is the most crucial part, more than the strength part. For a long time, my mind was holding me back. She was able to help me get focused, and it has been the difference in how I compete now.”
Fox’s mother had high praise for her son, as well.
“I am beyond proud of him,” she said. “He has overcome so many obstacles that he had as a child and now he is so focused in every aspect of his life. Besides his weight lifting, which I’m so proud of, he recently received an award for being in the top 5 percent of his class. No words can express how proud I am.”