CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – With just three weeks until the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, several local athletes are gearing up for their shot to compete for the glory, fame and gold medals.
That includes weightlifter Caine Wilkes. He graduated from Great Bridge High School and went to Old Dominion University. In a few weeks, he’ll be on a plane to Japan, competing as part of the USA Weightlifting team.
He is a three-time Pan American Champion, two-time Pan American silver medalist and five-time National Champion.
He tells 10 On Your Side his goals are to have fun and set some personal records.
Wilkes was 12 years old when he first started weightlifting.
“The initial draw was just, it was just a lot of fun for me,” Wilkes said. “I really enjoyed the challenge of it, of trying to increase those numbers.”
Initially, it was a way to get stronger for football, but in high school, it became his main sport. That continued after he graduated from Great Bridge High School and Old Dominion University.
“There’s a lot of aggression and power involved, but there’s also a lot of technique and control throughout the lift, too,” said Wilkes.
Now, after barely missing the team for the 2016 Rio Olympics and living through a pandemic, he’ll soon be on a plane to Tokyo.
“Just to realize a dream I’ve had for at least a dozen years has come to fruition,” said Wilkes.
Even though there is a ban on foreign fans, Wilkes won’t be alone. His father is his coach, and has been since he started in the sport.
“Having my dad come with me to Tokyo and actually be there for my competition, it’s again, just really rewarding to be able to share that experience with him,” Wilkes said.
His mother and wife can’t go, but they’ll be in Hawaii. That’s where USA Weightlifting is setting up a sort of base camp for athletes, their families and coaches.
“It’s great that we’re able to find ways to get them involved.” Wilkes said.
He says he’s ready to compete and live his Olympic dream.
“I have some goals in mind that I want to hit, some personal records and all,” Wilkes said. “But the main thing is to have fun and make some lifts.”
His weight class, +109kg, will compete on Aug. 4.