Cheerleaders strut their stuff
The 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou is set for November next year, but the selection process to determine a cheerleading squad for the event started last month at universities in the port city.
It will be a long and intensely competitive process to win the chance to perform at the continental showpiece. Cheerleader squads from all over the mainland have dreamt of being able to strut their stuff at such a major occasion.
Participants had to begin competing at college level, before progressing in their cities and later their provinces, before they come up against elite rivals from around the country.
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies served as one of the selection venues for 46 cheerleading squads to try out on May 17. Most of them were college students, though there were also a few kindergarten students.
One of the best known cheerleading squads is China's Charm, which thrilled spectators at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The group, clad in red cheongsam, held a yellow fan in their hands as they showcased their dance moves to the worldwide audience.
Liu Menglan, one of the cheerleaders on China's Charm, said the Olympic experience had given the competitors confidence that they could impress at the Asian Games. 'We gave a good impression as we had experience at the Beijing Olympics,' she said. 'And we have trained together for three years so we can always perform perfectly.'
Sweet Baby, a team comprising young girls from kindergartens, also excelled. Despite their tender age, they impressed with a smooth performance, prompting one of the judges to praise them for surprising the crowd with a mature display that showed the Asians Games was for everyone to enjoy regardless of age.
Ten cheerleading squads were selected to advance to the next round. Among that batch were China's Charm and Sweet Baby.
Liu Kun, one of the judges, said: 'Although many of the participants are not professional performers, I think they have done very well.'