Sirens savour competition success

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Astonishing judges and spectators alike, the Oxford Sirens cheerleaders took 2nd place in their division at the Future Cheer Winter Wonderland competition in London on Sunday 2 December. Beaten only by the Scottish Bluebells and led by coach Brid Cronin and captain Jennifer Loh, the Sirens wowed the competition by performing a heart-pumping routine that included difficult aerial stunts, sky-high jumps, and challenging gymnastics. Co-captains of choreography, Hannah Whittell and Cally Humphrey, spiced up the routine with their headturning dance moves that energized everyone from the judges to the spectators. Whilst roughly half of the 2007-08 Sirens team has never done cheerleading before, Loh says of her squad, “I am immensely proud to be captain this year of such a hard-working and dedicated team. My fellow Sirens continue to amaze me in their abilities to master complex cheerleading maneuvers, especially when so many of them are coming at the sport for the first time.” The ‘finished product’ of competitive cheerleading is a 2-½ minute routine set to rousing music and performed in front of a wild crowd. Many Sirens say the experience of being on that special blue gymnastics mat at competition is a whirlwind that rushes by in the blink of an eye. But the work that goes into preparing for that 2-½ minutes is anything but ephemeral. Practicing three or four times a week, the Sirens put a hefty amount of effort into their sport. The intensity of training increases significantly in the days approaching a competition, but Loh is convinced this pays dividends: “cheerleading is about being positive and being part of a team.” And indeed being positive is something the Sirens – like all great cheerleading squads – have learned to master. Meet a Siren on the streets of Oxford and he or she is likely to greet you warmly and ask how your day is going – the sort of social custom it would be nice to see more people adopt. Fortunately, Oxford will soon be seeing more shining Sirens faces around campus, as the squad is actively recruiting new members to join its trophy-winning ranks. With a massive recruitment event set for this Sunday 13 January (4:30 – 6:30 PM, Iffley Road Sports Centre), the Sirens are hoping to add more athletes of both sexes and all levels of experience to their roster. The team looks forward to entering three major competitions next term, and the more Sirens, the better. Whilst cheerleading is still fairly small in the UK, it is undeniably expanding as a serious sporting activity for everyone from children to university-level athletes.by Justine Ramsden

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