Watch these Welsh cheerleaders stun a US crowd to win gold at an international competition

Gemma Whyley has plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

Because the Swansea cheerleading coach has just helped a Welsh team to victory in the home of the sport.

Gemma, aged 28, was one of two coaches involved with the Welsh Paracheer Unified Freestyle Pom team that won gold at the ICU International Cheerleading and Dance World Championships held in Orlando, Florida.

Twenty-five per cent of the team – the first ever from Wales to win at the championships – is made up of young athletes with physical disabilities.

Gemma, who works as a transformation officer at Swansea Council, has been involved in cheerleading for the last 10 years, having first discovered the sport at Middlesex University, where she studied for a degree in dance.

Originally from Cwmllynfell in the Swansea Valley, is a former pupil of Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive School in Swansea.

Gemma Whyley (left) and Sabrina Steele-Mountjoy, the coaches of the Welsh Paracheer Unified Freestyle Pom team that won gold.

“A lot of people tend to associate cheerleading with America and sports like American Football, but competitive cheerleading is quite different,” said Gemma.

“It’s very athletic and dramatic, and utilises lots of aspects more commonly associated with gymnastics.

“I was initially drawn to cheerleading at university because of the social aspect, but it’s become my passion. There’s a real team ethos in the sport, and it teaches people who take part a lot of self-discipline.

“Sport is very much part of our culture in Swansea and across South Wales as a whole, so I’m very much backing Swansea’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

“The team-working aspect of sport also definitely helps me in the workplace too, because my job means I work very closely with staff in a number of different departments at Swansea Council.

“Now being considered for inclusion at the Olympics in future, cheerleading is among the fastest growing sports in the UK.”

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