THESE young dancers from Wick were left ‘crying for joy’ when they became international cheerleading champions in the sport’s spiritual home – Florida.
The squad from the Sussex Tornados travelled almost 4,400 miles to perform for just five minutes during the two-day Americheer International Championships at Disneyworld, in Orlando.
The 13 girls, aged between 11 and 16, were one of 25 teams from across the globe taking part in the tournament.
The youngsters had spent the best part of five months learning their two-and-half-minute routine at their gym in the Lineside Industrial Estate – which they then performed twice during the competition.
When the girls won the championship, their coach, Carley Johnson, called the club’s head coach, Lianne Blackwood, to break the news.
Lianne said: “The girls were just buzzing.
“Carley said that they literally cried with joy when the judges called their names out.
“This is a great achievement for Carley and the girls who competed – the USA is the home to cheerleading and to walk away champions was an amazing feeling for all involved.”
The girls had competed internationally at other events in Germany and South Carolina but had never managed to clinch the top spot.
“The girls who competed should be so proud of themselves,” Lianne added. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s an amazing achievement to add to the Sussex Tornados name.”
The youngsters returned to the country last week with their trophy and special victors’ jackets – which Lianne says they wear whenever they can.
“They are only just starting to get used to the fact that they are champions,” she said.
The Tornados, a registered charity, has almost 150 members and has been operating for about 16 years, having been based in Lineside for four of those years.
The group’s eyes are now fixed on their next tournament, the Future Cheers International, in Bournemouth, this July.
“It’s back to the gym for some hard work, so hopefully more silverware will make its way home to our gym,” Lianne said.