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VIDEO: Langley-area athletes cheerlead for Canada

Four from GEMS studio head to world championships

Four young athletes from a Langley-area cheerleading studio will have to adjust to a less flexible type of floor when they compete against the best in the world as part of Team Canada later this month.

The athletes are taking part in the Youth Median All-Girl Division, from April 24 to 26, at the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Championships in Orlando, Fla.

Avery Blades, Taylor Meeds, Kiana Millar, all 13, and McKenzie Walker, 11, who train at Gems Athletics Cheer & Tumble on the Surrey-Langley border, are used to spring floors, which flex and provide some bounce.

In Orlando, however, they will be competing on what is known as a “dead mat” with no spring, explained Christine Walker, whose daughter McKenzie is a “flyer” who is tossed high into the air by her teammates.

“They’ve had to change up some of the things that they do, to be able to compete at this competition,” Walker told the Langley Advance Times.

An online article about the different type of mats, which both provide safety and protection for cheerleaders, noted the biggest change is how the athletes land, from a flat foot on a spring floor, to landing on the balls of their feet and rolling outward on a dead mat.

Blades, a Willoughby resident, Meeds and Millar from Surrey, and Walker from Langley City, began their journey to the world championships by successfully trying out for Team B.C., composed of girls from all across the province.

Team B.C. then submitted a video to Cheer Canada, which chose the B.C. athletes to represent Canada.

Even though the four have already won awards at high-profile competitions, the world championships are next-level, Walker commented.

“It’s huge for the whole group of four of them. They’ve never worked together before until this opportunity came,” Walker said.

“Wearing the red and white’s a big deal for all of them.”

Making the national team has meant “a ton of extra practices and training camps that would stretch an entire weekend on top of keeping up in their regular programs,” Walker related.

Walker and other parents will be making the trip to Orlando with the four, to be there to do their own cheering for their kids.

In 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) granted full recognition to the International Cheer Union and cheerleading, meaning it now could become an Olympic sport.

ICU is the world governing body of cheerleading, representing 105 national federation reaching 3.5 million athletes.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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