ORLANDO, Fla., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Cheerleading, once a distinctively American activity, is gaining momentum globally. National teams representing more than 60 countries will compete for the title of World Champions during the 2010 International Cheer Union World Championships April 22-23.
The 2010 ICU World Championships will take place at the Walt Disney World® Resort, with more than 150 national team performances in a variety of cheer categories. The competition brings together the largest gathering of international cheerleading groups ever assembled for one competition, demonstrating the growing prominence of cheerleading across the world.
"The International Cheer Union has grown to 87 member countries," said Jeff Webb, president of the ICU. "As the sport grows worldwide, these national teams bring their own flair and cultural flavor to cheerleading, and it makes for an exciting two-day event."
In addition to being the highest level of competition in cheerleading, the event features opening ceremonies with teams in national wear, a cultural village where teams exchange pins and immerse themselves in each other's cultures and closing ceremonies during which medals are awarded.
"The ICU World Championships, to me, is the Olympics of cheerleading," said Fang Ya, vice secretary general of the Chinese cheerleading delegation. "We enjoy the blending of cultures as much as the performances."
Although the competition is tough, the World Championships allow teams to come together and support each other in an unprecedented way, said Karl Olson, Secretary General of the ICU. "The spirit of global unity in the arena was breathtaking last year. We look forward to the energy and enthusiasm the teams will bring as they unite in their common passion for cheerleading."
The 2009 competition involved more than 2,000 participants from 45 countries and attracted about than 10,000 spectators. The ICU 2010 championships promise to be a grander affair with more participants from more countries.
Russia, Norway, India and Sweden are among the nations participating for the first time, while other countries, including several Caribbean islands, will send delegations to observe this year's competition.
Team USA will attempt to reclaim the title of World Champion as teams Canada, Thailand, Columbia, Finland and China, all fierce competitors in the 2009 championships, prepare to again challenge Team USA. China's 300-member National Team delegation will flood the arena setting the stage for a true Olympic-style event.
"We may see China prove once again to be a strong contender, and we've also seen teams such as Norway and Japan emerge as formidable competitors," Webb said.
The ICU is a non-profit governing entity for international cheerleading, comprised of 87 member National Federations, whose mission is to promote and improve cheerleading. ICU events are open to national or provisional cheer federations.
"I am very optimistic for the future of cheerleading," Webb said.
About the ICU
The International Cheer Union (ICU) is the non-profit international governing entity whose mission is to advance cheerleading on a global scale. With 87 member nations, the ICU represents the various geographical areas where cheerleading exists. The ICU promotes healthy competition and rule development so that cheerleading can progress globally in a safe and organized way. More information can be found on www.cheerunion.org.
SOURCE International Cheer Union