Cheerleading acknowledged as 'real sport' and added to Olympic Games

Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading may produce Canberra's next crop of Olympic champions after the International Olympic ...
Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading may produce Canberra's next crop of Olympic champions after the International Olympic Committee added the sport in December.  Photo: Jay Cronan

 The next batch of ACT Olympians could be cheering their way to the Games.

Cheerleading was officially given the International Olympic Committee (IOC) green light last month and approved, provisionally, as an Olympic sport.

The groundbreaking announcement was welcomed news for Canberra Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading owners Kahlia Gilbert-Davis and Jacqueline McGrath.

Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading excited that International Olympic Committee are considering adding cheerleading to the ...
Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading excited that International Olympic Committee are considering adding cheerleading to the Olympics. Photo Jay Cronan Photo: Jay Cronan

"It's great for the cheerleading world because we've worked really hard to get ourselves established as a real sport," Gilbert-Davis said.

"We're not just the sideline cheerleaders with the pom poms and it's about time we were recognised."

The pair have coached multiple national champions at their gym, with athletes training 15-20 hours per week and competing in up to eight events each year.

Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading excited that International Olympic Committee are considering adding cheerleading to the ...
Galaxy All-Stars Cheerleading excited that International Olympic Committee are considering adding cheerleading to the Olympics. Photo Jay Cronan Photo: Jay Cronan

"We rank really highly in the nation but it's only because the kids are so dedicated and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them became Olympians one day," Gilbert-Davis said.

"It's incredible for strength and fitness, so many people say to 'I started cheer and now I'm winning this' and when we're asked who we cheer for we say ourselves."

McGrath emphasised cheerleading is a sport for all ages, shapes, sizes and mentalities.

"We've had children with high level anxiety, learning difficulties or physical difficulties, but there's a place for everyone because you need variety in your team to be successful," McGrath said.

"Cheerleading has become really popular in Australia, people come along and try it out then fall in love with it, but getting boys involved is something we still struggle with."

Junior coach Duncan Gammage, 17, has tried convincing his cricket and soccer mates, but to no avail.

"It's difficult getting other blokes involved, I've been trying to get my friends down here but they don't want to because they think it's a girls sport which annoys me," Gammage said.

"I told them you get to meet girls as well as build your strength but they're still not interested."

Andrew Collins said he would recommend the sport to any parent after signing up his 10-year-old daughter four years ago.

"Just watching my daughter grow from a little girl who could only do a little tumble roll to now doing all the turns and twists now is awesome," Collins said.

"Cheer has been great for her confidence and she's made friends for life because everyone in here looks after each other.

"I've got three sons who play rugby league but I'd like to see them get involved, in fact I'm thinking about having a crack at a daddy-daughter routine.

"Now it's in the Olympics this sport is destined for big things. My daughter is already the star in my eyes but watching her at the Olympics Games would be a dream come true."

Cheerleading has more than 100 national federations and nearly 4.5 million registered athletes and will now be eligible for IOC funding.

The sport is eligible to apply for Games admission after three years which means means it could debut on the Olympic stage in 2024.