A MAN who took home a silver medal for cheerleading says the sport is “not all pom-poms”.
Lewis Judd, of Bansons Way, Ongar, was given the award after competing in the International Cheer Union at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The 26-year-old decided to give cheerleading a go while he was studying for a masters at Warwick University.
He then went on to cheer professionally for Team England, which is made up of a collection of athletes from across the country, who team train in both London and Coventry.
He said: “Some schoolfriends used to tease me when they found out I had taken up cheerleading, they believed it was all pom-poms and dance routines.
“Cheerleading combines gymnastics and acrobatics, so there is a lot of throwing people in the air and catching them.
“I had previously participated in rugby and swimming, but when I got to university I wanted to try something different.”
He competed against 70 countries between April 26 and 28.
The former Brentwood School pupil has been part of the team for four years and is no stranger to cheerleading tournaments.
The competitions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 are all Cheer Union World Championships, so all took place in America.
In both 2014 and 2015, he and his team took fifth place and in 2017, came second.
Four years ago, he took part in his first ever world cheerleading contest in 2014 with the same troupe, where he took 5th place.
Lewis is one of two men in the 24-person team, who learn to tumble, swirl and cheer when they meet up once a month.
But his career in cheerleading may soon have to come to an end because he has two prolapsed discs in his back, causing pain.
Lewis, now a project manager at the National Grid, said: “Cheerleading is different from many other team sports in the sense that you have to learn many of the tumbles independently.
“This results in new challenges everyday, but also brings about very fast progression.
“It can be very risky, especially the acrobatic element.
“I have now taken up the flying trapeze now - and at least with this sport I know that if I fall I will just land in a net rather than on the floor”.