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Chaplin lifts himself to the top
Onward to New Orleans, then to Sydney

File photo by Richard Rodriguez
Oscar Chaplin III, a member of Team Savannah and an Olympic hopeful, took
first place in the Junior World Weightlifting Championships July 7 in Prague.

 

By Clarence E. Wilson Jr.

When Oscar Chaplin III was in the third grade, he received his first set of weights. His father, Oscar Chaplin Jr., an avid weightlifter in his own right, had no idea just how far the younger Chaplin would travel.

According to the elder Chaplin, what really got his son headed in the right direction was his sister, Sue Anne. While at Jenkins High School, she became a weightlifter and one of the lifting coaches with a group of lifters beginning to form under the guidance of Michael Cohen.

That group eventually evolved into Team Savannah. Under the Cohen's watchful eye, Chaplin and Henry Meyers have carved out continuous weightlifting success, which has finally led one of the men to the number-one spot in the 77-Kilo class. Chaplin lifeted his way to first place in the Junior World Weightlifting Championships July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. The feat was the first time in nearly three decades where an American captured gold.

"This is the first time in 26 years that an American has climbed to the top in weightlifting," the elder Chaplin said. "Oscar Junior is feeling pretty good about what just occurred, but he is still concerned about the upcoming Olympic trials next weekend in New Orleans."

Chaplin III didn't return to Savannah after the world championships; instead, he headed straight to the Olympic training site in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"Oscar started a new training regimen which strengthened his legs," his father said. "He concentrated on doing more squats with the weights and it paid off for him as he jumped from No. 3 in the world to No. 1."

According to Chaplin Jr., when Chaplin III accomplished his weightlifting session and the scores were posted, an American contingent attending the competition let out a tremendous ovation.

"I had no idea so many Americans were at the competition," Chaplin Jr. said. "It was a great moment for him and I was happy to see it, because it was a long time coming."

Chaplin set four American senior records and four American junior records with lifts of 155 kilos in the snatch and 187.5 in the clean and jerk. In 1997, Chaplin captured two bronze medals in the snatch. He added to his medal count in 1999 when he walked away with three bronze medals in the snatch and clean and jerk. At Prague, he captured two gold medals in the clean and jerk and one silver medal in the snatch.

His mother, Rebecca Chaplin, says she has only spoken with her son briefly, but will be one of the family members cheering on her son during the trials in New Orleans July 21-23.

"It was questionable where Oscar stood before the performance in Prague," his mother said. "Now he stands a little better in his quest to make the Olympic team."

Chaplin hopes to stand at the top of the Olympic podium during the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, in September.

It has been a long climb for Chaplin III, but now the top of the mountain is in view.

 

Clarence Wilson can be reached at 525-5500 or by e-mail at cwilson@georgiaguardian.com.

 

 

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