Rising star Eleni Guerrera recently joined the Powerlifting America podcast as she preps for the Sub-Junior World Championships in Romania on August 28, where it looks like she’ll be in a heated three-way battle for the gold medal. Eleni is the reigning 57kg High School National Champion and Best Lifter. She totaled 375kg, the best total of all 57kg Juniors and Sub-Juniors. She scored 90.87 IPF GL points, the second highest among all Sub-Juniors in Powerlifting America this year.
Eleni talks about her performance at High School Nationals, her thoughts on the Classic Open World Championships in Malta (which she watched carefully), her goals for the upcoming Sub-Junior World Championships in Romania, and how she overcame numerous setbacks in her life and lifting career to become a world-class powerlifter in the span of just a few years.
Since her first meet in 2022 at the age of 16, Eleni has managed to add 50kg (110lbs) to her total on the way to achieving one of the highest DOTS scores of any Junior or Sub-Junior lifter in Powerlifting America this year. She did this despite severely injuring her back six weeks prior to High School Nationals. Eleni explains that her success was due to her ability to reframe her injury as a challenge rather than a setback, demonstrating the athletes’ mental strength at the sport’s pinnacle. Her lifts in training leading up to Sub-Junior Worlds in Romania have been on another level from her impressive showings in competition. Eleni credited this rapid improvement to her coach, Vin Mangione, whom she hired after Nationals. She then goes on to discuss the Classic Open World Championships in Malta this year, giving some expert analysis of everything from attempt selection and judging to where the sport could be headed in the future. She also mentioned who she was most excited to watch, including Natalie Richards, Jessica Espinal, Meg Scanlon, and many more.
Eleni speaks about her softball and tennis background and how she found a passion for lifting after her softball team split apart. She also touched on her ambitions to work in the medical field and how it was sometimes a challenge to balance her athletic and academic pursuits. Eleni was greatly affected by the pandemic in 2020, a fate common to her peers, but she found a renewed sense of purpose in lifting. She explains that after getting into running as a means to relieve stress, she realized she had developed an unhealthy body image and turned to lifting to improve her physical and mental health. Her inspiring account of these challenges demonstrates why powerlifting is meaningful to so many athletes beyond just the love of the sport.
Eleni has already left her mark on powerlifting during her short but eventful high school career and will only continue to push boundaries in the 57kg class. Hear her story in her own words here:
High School Nationals will be in New Orleans in 2024, registration is open.
Support Eleni by following her on Instagram @elenilifts57.
Julia Williams is a powerlifting athlete, coach, referee, and producer on the media team at Powerlifting America. Follow Julia on Instagram here.