A CHEERLEADING team from North Yorkshire claimed top honours at an international competition held in America last week.

Colburn-based Lazer Cheer Academy travelled to Atlanta to take part in the Cheersport Nationals, which saw 22,000 athletes take part from teams across the world.

The club’s team, Lazer Royalty, was made up of 20 athletes between the ages of ten and 17. Their routine stunned judges, and scored them the International Junior 1 division title, resulting in them being crowned as as national champions.

The team were presented with a banner, trophy and all winning cheerleaders received a national champion jacket on the day.

Proud directors of the club Mandy Foreman and her daughter Chelsea Foreman, who is also head coach, said this was a “once in a lifetime experience for the athletes”.

“It’s the first time that we’ve travelled abroad with the club, and the sheer size of the venue and competition in comparison to the events in the UK was shocking for us all,” said Ms Foreman. “We put the team together last year in July, and have trained hard twice a month since then.

“The girls absolutely loved it. Cheer, as a sport, isn’t treated in the UK to the same regard it is in America – it’s a very big deal there so it was nice for them to experience that and compete in a huge event. They also got to meet some of their idols from the cheer world who were there too.”

The mother and daughter team took over Lazer Cheer Academy two years ago, with Miss Foreman choreographing and directing the team’s winning performance.

“I’ve been involved with cheer since I was eleven,” said Miss Foreman. “And I was lucky enough to travel to America with the sport myself whilst I was at university. This was what inspired me and my mum to take the team away, we just wanted to give our athletes the same amazing experience.

“I’ve always loved the flipping and flying element of cheer, because it isn’t in every sport that you get to do that. But for me cheerleading has always been about friendship. With all the lifts and catches in a routine you have to have a lot of trust in one another, and that creates a real bond.

“The girls are so close with each other, and bonded even more during the competition. They all looked out for each other, it was more than a trip with family than friends.”

Although Miss Foreman said that she would love to plan a similar experience abroad in the future, she feels that the club would struggle to raise the necessary funds, with cheerleading not being a high profile sport in the UK.

“Because cheer doesn’t yet have a national government body, clubs like ours can’t apply for funding,” said Miss Foreman. “So the entire club worked hard hosting bake sales, breakfast mornings and pamper days to raise money for the Atlanta trip, and they did a great job.

“I think because the sport isn’t acknowledged in the same way as others, people can be more reluctant to part with their money. But we hope that by taking part in these international events, we’ll bring more attention and public interest to the sport and get the needed support.”