Cheerleaders going for Gold

February 26, 2014
Silvia Mendes

Ask anyone what image pops into their head when you mention figure skating and I’m confident that sequined skirts, splits and acrobatics would be the first to appear, something 2014’s Winter Olympics of Sochi have dazzled us with.

As a former cheerleader myself the parallels to cheerleading are obvious and so it got me thinking, should cheerleading be given more credibility as a sport and be part of the Summer Olympics?

I guess the big question is – how is sport classified? If you look it up, it basically boils down to being a physical activity which is governed by a set of rules and Involves some form of competition. I can assure you, cheerleading ticks all three.

I know the levels of fitness, athleticism and agility needed are substantial – it’s really not just the case of showing up on a Sunday and waving a pom-pom around for a bit.

Figure SkatingThe goal of a competitive cheerleader is to be the best. Just like gymnasts or the unfeasibly flexible figure skaters we watched in Sochi, they are awarded points for difficulty, technique, creativity and sharpness. The more difficult a stunt, the sharper and more in-sync the motions, the better the score.

The skills involved in cheerleading prove that they are exceptional athletes. To perform their activities, they must be as strong as any football player, as poised as any dancer and as flexible as the best gymnasts. They are athletes by every definition of the word. Just take a look yourself

With the news this week that UK Sport expects to increase funding for winter sports following Team GB’s Sochi successes, I wondered if this could mean that Cheerleading will one day be given funding towards their own Olympic dream? Surely there are more cheerleaders in the UK than there are figure skaters? In addition it doesn’t seem fair that mainstream, professional sports like football, golf and tennis make the Olympics. Why can’t cheerleading?

Cheerleading may have to wait somewhat longer before making its Olympic debut but it seems to me that it satisfies every element of what we understand an ‘Olympic sport’ to be. I’ll start the petition now…



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