By Lucy Ashton

A ROYAL NAVY powerlifter based at HM Naval Base Clyde has represented Great Britain at the world powerlifting championships in Lithuania.

Petty Officer Catering Services (PO)(CS) Wesley ‘Wes’ McGuinness competed at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) tournament in the bench press discipline.

The 32-year-old Submariner from Sunderland finished seventh, achieving a bench press of 167.5 Kg against some very ‘strong’ competition.

PO McGuinness started his powerlifting journey in 2011, and within three years had represented England at the ‘Four Nations’ power lifting championships.

In 2016, PO McGuinness upped the ante (along with the weight) and joined British Powerlifting, the highest level of British power lifting association in the United Kingdom.

PO McGuinness said, “Strength training over the last ten years has been no easy task. I took up powerlifting back in 2011, It was clear to me that if I wanted to reach the top of my sport it will take a lot of patience and consistency.

“The most important thing is to have a vision or a goal of what you want out of your training, whether that be a local competition in ten weeks or a national championship. I really struggle to get motivated if I don’t have a target to meet, I can’t just go through the motions in the gym.

” I must thank CPO (SM) Paul “Jakey” Foran, he has been by my side at nearly every competition since I first took up powerlifting over a decade ago, making sure I go into every competition with the correct mentality and attitude. He ensures I have the correct approach to be successful in my sport. He’s a very strong motivator. He has the ability to get the absolute best from me on platform at every Powerlifting event.”

As the weight increased the divisional records came tumbling down. Wes became the first member of the Armed Forces to be selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships. Held in South Africa in 2017, his haul of medals (two silvers and a bronze) also earned him a nomination for Royal Navy sportsman of the year.

With all these achievements in the bag you would find it hard to believe that in-between ‘Wes’ had time for anything else, let alone his day job. Working in galleys and catering offices deployed both above and below the waves on submarines, on operations in Bahrain and onboard HMS Albion as retinue staff for Commander Littoral Strike Group (COMLSG).

Speaking of his training whilst deployed he said, “I took for granted all the equipment available to me. When I deployed on a submarine for the first time you really must get creative with training. This is secondary to your job at sea. Working in the Catering Services Department onboard is an extremely demanding role, however also very enjoyable and rewarding”.

This creativity and ability to improvise paid dividends. As gyms around the country closed their doors due to the pandemic, elite athletes (and the not so elite among us) were forced to get creative in order to reach fitness goals. PO McGuinness was no different. ‘Wes’, using his previous experience in strength and conditioning with limited equipment, got to work. Undertaking a training regime more at home in a Rocky Balboa montage, he used weighted ruck sacks, flipped and pushed tyres and completed pull-ups on old traffic signs in order to meet his fitness goals.

After his achievements at the world championships in Lithuania, he is now currently ranked sixth in the world in his weight category.

Speaking of his achievements so far ‘Wes’ said, “If you can apply our Naval Core values to what you really love to do, in my case Powerlifting. I guarantee you will be successful at some point. It is very simple; the key is to not to lose focus. If you stop, it will never happen. But if you keep going you don’t know what’s ahead.”

Whilst a lot of us will be regretting that extra slice of turkey over the Christmas period, Wes will be hard at work in the gym, starting his preparations in early January for the Commonwealth Championship’s being held in New Zealand, and the World Bench Press Championships held in Kazakhstan (both in 2022).

He said, “This year was a real eye opener, I feel better going into the championships next year. At this year’s event I felt like an attendee, however I have gained bags of experience and next year I’ll be going back as a contender.”

PO McGuinness has emphasised a huge part of his success over the last six years is down to the valuable contributions made by Naval charities. The Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) which provide elite sports grants, and We Remember Submariners (For which Wes is an ambassador). He said, “These grants have played an enormous part in my success in recent years, I am extremely grateful for the support and I am a true believer that you are only as good as the support around you. Because of the help from the RNRMC, We Remember Submariners and the Royal Navy.

“I have been able to persevere during these difficult times. I continue to fly the flag and I am extremely proud of representing the Royal Navy at the highest level of powerlifting within the UK.”











Wes McGuinness – “I have gained bags of experience and I’ll be going back as a contender.”

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