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Junior Aviemore powerlifter aims to come back even stronger after European bronze

By Gavin Musgrove

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Joel Aragoneses prepares for his third squat.
Joel Aragoneses prepares for his third squat.

A junior powerlifter from Aviemore who claimed bronze against Europe's elite will aim to come back even stronger.

Joel Aragoneses finished third in the sub-junior 105-kilogrammes class at the 2023 European Powerlifting Federation European Junior Championships in Budapest in Hungary last Thursday.

The former Kingussie High School pupil was competing under the Spanish flag – he hails from La Linea dela Concepcion near Gibraltar and moved to Aviemore six years ago.

Aragoneses told the Strathy: “It was great to be involved at the EPF European Junior champs.

“It was a hard preparation in the lead up – especially having to bounce back after suffering an injury in training which made it extremely difficult.

“I didn’t get the results I wanted on the actual day but I am still happy with the outcome. As I always say, there’s no way to completely fail unless you completely quit.”

The 17-year-old added: “The facilities at the Aviemore Community Centre have been key to supporting my training programme.”

Aragoneses works as a High Life Highland leisure assistant and fitness instructor at the venue.

He helped the Spanish national team to claim fifth place overall in the under-18 competition with France lifting the crown followed by Great Britain and Czechia in third spot.

Aragoneses squatted 250kgs at his second attempt but failed his third and final lift at 262.5kgs.

In his weaker discipline, he bench pressed 125kgs on his first attempt but then failed after moving up to 132.5kgs which effectively cost him the overall silver medal.

Aragoneses deadlifted 285kgs and then 300kgs but failed at his third and final attempt of 307.5kgs which meant that he agonisingly fell just short of runner-up Poland’s Maciej Slawski combined total for the three events.

Joel Aragoneses takes the strain in the deadlift.
Joel Aragoneses takes the strain in the deadlift.

Claiming gold as expected in the sub-junior 105-kilogrammes class was Austria’s force of nature, world champion Demir Hamza (18).

He lifted 290kgs (squat), a huge 207.5kgs in the bench press which was the heaviest lift by a distance for the whole discipline and 320kgs in the deadlift. His performance would have been enough to secure him overall gold in the 120+kgs weight division and silver in the -120kgs groups at the U18 age level.

Only an amazing performance by GB’s Nonso Chinye (18) in the -120kgs division was better as the Brit smashed two world sub-junior records with lifts of 313kgs in the squat and an incredible deadlift of 363kgs.

He bench-pressed 192.5kgs in between.

Aragoneses could have a real tilt at gold next year as Hamza moves into the older age division whilst the Spaniard will still be competing as a sub-junior.

He was representing his homeland after claiming the Campeonato de Espana Junior-Subjunior de Powerlifting Carranque under-18 title in the -105kgs category a year ago whilst still attending Kingussie High School.

On his way to the podium.
On his way to the podium.

Since taking up the sport properly just over two years ago the 17 year old has gone from strength to strength lifting some astonishing weights at the HLH gym and at Gym 300 Inverness.

Aragoneses had been due to compete in the 2023 IPF Junior World Championships in Cluj Napoca in Romania at the start of last month but sustained a head injury just a few weeks out from the contest.

He suffered concussion whilst attempting a squat after slipping and hitting the back of his head on the bar.

It meant that he had to sit out a couple of weeks of training.

Aragoneses has thanked his coach Theo Goff, mother Fuensanta and my family and friends and High Life Highland for their support.

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