Winchester Herald Chronicle

Follow Us On:

Lifting for a cause, former rebel earns first gold medal

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm


Evan Harris


Former Rebel basketball player Blake Stephens with his first USA Weightlifting first place medal draped over his neck.  —Staff Photo by Evan Harris

Former Rebel basketball player Blake Stephens with his first USA Weightlifting first place medal draped over his neck.

USA Weightlifting coach Clint Spencer held a sanctioned lifting competition in Tullahoma this past Saturday in an attempt to raise money for Tennessee teenager Cole Christopher who is diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous, and needs a life-saving stem cell transplant.

The event was held at Tullahoma’s CrossFit affiliate, and welcomed in several professional and Olympic lifters, along with a few local athletes as well.

Of those local athletes was former Rebel basketball player Blake Stephens, who shook up the day by winning his weight class and earning a gold medal.

Coming from training in CrossFit, and now faced with trying to stack up with trained Olympic lifters, Stephens started the day with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

The day’s first challenge came from the differences from Stephens’s everyday lifting routines. There was a large difference in the weight lifting bars themselves, which he quickly had to adjust too.

Bracketed in the 158-pound weight class, Stephens stepped in and showed out from the day’s first lift.

For his first lift in the snatch, Stephens went what he calls safe with 178 lbs. For his second lift he went with 185 lbs and again had no problem.

After feeling really good during his first two lifts Stephens, along with some guidance from his coach for the day Chad Garrett, decided to try something a little risky.

For his third and final snatch lift Stephens lifted 198 lbs, which is eight lbs heavier than he had ever lifted. The Impressive lift was enough to help Stephens coast through the rest of the day and go on to claim his gold medal.

Lifting in a competition is a totally different atmosphere than Stephens is use too. From loud music and boisterous crowd, to a quiet and serious environment when competing, Stephens admitted was very different.

Stephens finished the day with the Cling and Jerk lifts and ousted his competition.

With his first win under his belt, Stephens’s eyes were opened to his potential in Olympic lifting.

All money raised from the event went to help with medical bills of Christopher. With the cost of a stem cell transplant often exceeding $500,000, several efforts are being made to help Christopher and his family.

For more information on this cause visit