CHEERLEADING is more than putting poms poms in the air, they are serious athletes aiming for Olympic glory, said the President of Cheer Sport Ireland.
The sport, originally associated with American football and basketball teams, is now recognized for its own unique style and highly complex routines.
In July of last year, the International Olympic Committee voted in favor of giving full recognition to the Cheer Union Union and cheerleading, which makes the sport eligible to apply for the Olympic Games program.
In Ireland, around 2,000 athletes are involved in cheerleading, with around twenty active clubs across the country.
The sport has been active in Ireland for around twelve years and Irish teams are regularly represented at competitions around the globe.
Fiona Collumb, coach and President of Cheer Sport Ireland, said that there is much more to cheer than meets the eye.
She told the Irish Sun: “Unfortunately I don’t think people are really aware of the sport and what it’s about, I think that’s a problem.
“People think about cheerleading and have a complete misconception of how difficult the sport itself is, to be a top athlete.
“Unfortunately people think of pom poms and sideline cheerleading and that’s not what we’re about.
“We don’t even use poms in routines at all unless you’re actually singing there but everything else is based on how powerful your routines can be.”
In Ireland, the sport is 98 per cent dominated by women and men are very welcome to participate. On the same subject : Seward Park Cheerleading program faces funding shortfall, appeals to community.
In countries such as the US, Finland, Norway and Denmark, many male athletes take up cheerleading after injury in an attempt to maintain their skills and strength.
Fiona said one of the biggest incentives to get involved is the teamwork and lifelong friendships made.
She said: “It’s a great team effort. If you are a team that has to work together to perform stunts, with 24 athletes involved in building a pyramid, you need to be sure that everyone is in the right position and that you know exactly what you are doing.
“If one athlete is missing, that would stop that whole pyramid stunt sequence so it’s very demanding.
“You have to know that you have to be sure in that team and be committed and everyone trains very closely together.
“Some athletes trained up to eight hours a week because they would have to work on their tumbling or jumping skills.
“We are finding that many of our athletes would go and even do cheerleading at university, which is great and we have university teams that would go to the United States and compete as well as within Ireland .
“So it doesn’t stop or fail at certain ages, it just keeps going and a lot of them become coaches.”