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.