Anna Grig­son is under­go­ing ‘gru­elling’ train­ing in a bid to be the best. Recent­ly, defend­ing her title as Nation­al Cham­pi­on at the New Zealand Cheer­lead­ing Nation­als, the 14-year-old has been select­ed to rep­re­sent New Zealand in three teams at the ICU and USASF World Cheer­lead­ing Cham­pi­onships to be held in Flori­da in April 2018.

Anna is part of the 24-strong All-Girl Elite and Junior All-Girl Advanced teams as well as the NZ co-ed team. She is the only Tau­ran­ga cheer­lead­er to be select­ed for the­se New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams.

A stu­dent at Mount Maun­ganui Col­lege, Anna puts in 15–20 hours of cheer­lead­ing prac­tice every week on top of her school work. Train­ing for her New Zealand teams takes place in Auck­land over four days a week, mean­ing that Anna spends a lot of time trav­el­ling between Tau­ran­ga and Auck­land, often requir­ing her to com­plete her stud­ies away from her friends and fam­i­ly.

Anna has reached the high­est lev­el in this demand­ing sport (Lev­el 5) and dis­plays the ded­i­ca­tion, deter­mi­na­tion and per­se­ver­ance that is evi­dent in any top New Zealand ath­lete. Not only com­pet­ing for New Zealand, Anna also reg­u­lar­ly com­petes with her local Tau­ran­ga team, the Bay Twisters Light­ning and is also a coach at Bay Twisters club, where she is New Zealand’s youngest per­son to hold cheer­lead­ing NZCU coach­ing cre­den­tials in Lev­el 1 and 2.

Many peo­ple think of cheer­lead­ing as a ‘side­line’ activ­i­ty that sup­ports oth­er sports but this couldn’t be fur­ther from the case. The Inter­na­tion­al Olympics Com­mit­tee have for­mal­ly endorsed cheer­lead­ing as an offi­cial sport for inclu­sion in the 2020 Olympics due to its skill require­ments in acro­bat­ic tum­ble, stunts and dance; and the New York Times have recog­nised that cheer­lead­ing is the fastest grow­ing sport for girls with over 4.5 mil­lion reg­is­tered ath­letes world­wide.

Anna is among New Zealand’s best tal­ent in the sport and a role mod­el for the 150 bud­ding cheer­lead­ers who are mem­bers of her club, Bay Twisters. To fol­low Anna’s jour­ney to the worlds, you can fol­low her on Face­book at anna­grig­sonof­fi­cial.