GIRLS from a Thatcham-based cheerleading squad are celebrating after being crowned world champions.
Crimson Heat Tigers beat the Americans at their own game in the Summit World Championships in Orlando earlier this month.
The group of 25 girls, aged between nine and 15, were the first non-American team to win a Summit world title, with their routine choreographed by Megan Dancer.
Cheerleader and flyer Olivia Briggs, 14, from Thatcham, said: “It feels quite surreal actually, but we are like a family, working in a team with all your friends. Working together, the energy is better than working on your own.”
The Summit World Championships are held annually in May, and this year saw more than 20,000 athletes competing in more than 960 teams.
Crimson Heat Tigers head coach Gareth Green said: “The pressure on the shoulders of these girls was huge, and I am bursting with pride for each and every one of them.
“The athletes were incredible and this success is down to their dedication and determination to succeed. However, this is just the first step in our long-term goal, which will hopefully see them achieve even greater success.”
Crimson’s chairman Gary Ayckbourn said: “Our expectations for the competition were just to get to finals day, but we trained with a view to getting a top-three medal. However, to actually win, especially given the quality of the opposition – the reality that we are world champions is still sinking in.”
The Crimson Heat Tigers are based in Reading, but train at Thatcham’s Kennet School and have none of the specialist equipment for elite level competition.
“If this isn’t a reflection and vindication of what can be achieved if you believe in yourselves, work hard and are dedicated, then I don’t know what is,” Mr Ayckbourn said.
The Crimson Heat Tigers have no time to rest before the next competition in four weeks time, which will be the qualifier for next years’ Summit where they hope to defend their title.