Quick study produces uplifting results Dedicated: In just 1 1/2 years as a weightlifter, Chris Forman has already progressed enough to compete at an international level.

February 18, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It was an easy sell.

Leo Totten, coach of the Iron Eagle Club at Francis Scott Key, asked Chris Forman to give weightlifting a chance.

Forman first connected with Totten through gymnastics. Totten's daughter competed at the same club where Forman spent eight years participating.

Totten rattles off the ingredients needed to be a successful Olympic-style weightlifter: speed, strength, explosiveness, flexibility and balance.

"You really need to be a good all-around athlete," he added. "Chris' gymnastics background helped him right off the bat. He already had the strength and all the other attributes. What also stands out is his work ethic. He's very diligent and has great desire."

It's high praise from an individual who knows weightlifting. Totten has extensive experience on the U.S. team and will serve as team leader for the U.S. Weightlifting Team in the Olympics in Atlanta.

Forman would love to get to the Olympics some day, but has other goals to reach first. He's off to a good start.

It's been a little more than 1 1/2 years since he started lifting weights, and the 5-foot-3, 120-pound sophomore already has won a gold medal at the Quebec Junior Weightlifting Championships last December. Competing in the 54-kilogram division (119 pounds), he had a snatch lift of 60 kilograms (133 pounds) and a clean-and-jerk lift of 75 kilograms (165 pounds) to set personal standards.

"It was great," Forman said. "It was the first time I ever competed at an international level. The idea of going up against people I've never competed against and competing internationally was just cool."

More recently, at the U.S. Junior National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he earned a bronze medal. In a short time, weightlifting has taken the 15-year-old Forman all over North America, but it all starts in the Francis Scott Key weightlifting room.

He lifts every weekday. On Tuesday and Thursday it's from 6:50 to 7:30 in the morning; Monday, Wednesday and Friday it's 3 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. after school. He also has a half-hour class in the middle of the day.

"It takes a lot of dedication," he said. "You don't really see any improvement until you compete in meets and see your total. Sometimes the workouts are easier and other times not. There are times when I make all my lifts and everything feels right and other times when I struggle to keep up with the workout."

When Forman first began lifting, his combined total (snatch lift and clean-and-jerk lift) was 107.5 kilograms. In Albuquerque, his combined total was 140 kilograms.

"He's very teachable," Totten said. "His technique has improved and he's much stronger. Those are things Chris continues to work hard on."

Forman will be competing in Savannah, Ga., shortly and will be heading for New Orleans during the summer.

"You get used to the positions and techniques. It's not that hard to learn, but you have to learn them right or else you won't be able to do it," he said. "I'm getting quicker in my lifts with better balance and flexibility. It's turned out to be a lot of fun."

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