China trains 200,000 cheerleaders – for other Olympic teams
Olympic host China has assembled a cheerleading squad of approximately 200,000 volunteers, the largest in Games history, to stir up spirit for any national team that needs it. “It is almost unheard of in the history of the Olympic movement, [such a] large number of student cheerleaders to cheer for other countries during the Games,” says Guoqi Xu, author of “Olympic Dreams, China and Sports, 1895-2008.”
Most of the volunteer cheerleaders have never shaken pom poms in sassy pleated skirts, let alone roused a crowd with victory jumps. They’ll have some simple dance steps under their belt as well as plastic, noisemaking “cheering sticks” to clap together.
Olympics organizers are also preparing 28 elite squads of young women chosen through a nationwide competition and from cheerleading or dance institutes. The 400 who made the cut will perform “not only as cheerleaders, but also as dancers and acrobats,” the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) promises. They’ve been practicing for four to six hours a day at a compound on the outskirts of Beijing since June. To teach them new moves and help them with pep and precision, BOCOG brought in cheerleaders from the New England Patriots football team.
How do China’s cheerleaders feel about rooting for other countries? “My first choice is China,” but I’m happy to cheer for any team, says Yang Xue, who has done cheerleading for one year.
Ok, we’ll fess up and say we just have this story so we can show Chinese girl cheerleaders. But you read the story, right?