Is U.S.A's cheerleading dominance coming to an end?

The sport's booming global profile means it has never been so competitive, argues four-time USA representative Millery Null

When it comes to competitive cheerleading, the U.S.A have stood head and shoulders above the rest.

A perfect illustration of this dominance can be seen in the World Cheerleading Championships, where the host nation has won every Coed Premier title (often considered the sport's blue ribaned event) except one, since the event’s inception in 2009.

As the sport's birthplace, perhaps this record isn’t so surprising.

The rise of America's rivals

But as the years have gone on, the sport’s popularity has boomed globally and America’s vice-like grip of the top honours has started to loosen just a touch.

Countries like Chile, Finland and the Chinese Taipei have become regular podium finishers across all disciplines and in one instance, managed to topple mighty U.S.A in the prestigious Coed Premier.

The year was 2015 when shock waves traveled through cheerleading, as Chinese Taipei took gold at the world championships.

"I was watching as best friend was competing," Millery Null, who has represented the US National Team since 2016 and was present in Orlando, Florida when her nation were toppled, told Olympic Channel.

"It was definitely hard for a lot of the team, as the United States athletes come from biggest universities in country and are used to winning.

"Chinese Taipei are our biggest competitor in the Coed division and their pyramids are some of the best pyramids I’ve seen in my entire life.

"They’re super quick and all their athletes are super athletic. Whenever we see them, we’re blown away. They come up with so many creative things and they execute so well."

U.S.A's strength also their weakness

Competitive cheerleading is a big deal at American universities, which is undoubtedly the main factor behind the nation's success on the international stage.

They have a conveyor belt of supreme athletes, experienced coaches and first-class facilities.

But has it come to a point where their depth of collegiate talent is becoming a hindrance to USA's preparations?

"We have incredible coaches that come from different universities and programs from around the country," former University of Alabama student Null continued.

"They hand select our team and choose the best athletes from different colleges and we’re trying to step up our game every year – but it’s getting harder. We train for not even a full two weeks and we compete at the end of our training which is 14 days.

"While we compete at the end of 14 days, some of these other countries have been training since August.

"A huge opportunity has opened up for other countries, who are stepping up and bringing stuff to the table that people never would have imagined in the past."

America still the gold standard

Despite Chinese Taipei's victory, and several others from other countries in different disciplines over the years, there is no doubt that America are still cheerleading's pace setters.

An amazing moment from the 2018 FISU World University Cheerleading Championships in Poland showed that U.S.A's record is still revered by their rivals the world over.

"Team Japan was in Poland, who had not competed in ICU (World Cheerleading Championships) in the United States in the past.

"They were amazed and blown away as the U.S.A were there and they looked up to us. Every time we saw them, they took their pointer finger and their thumb and they put them together and they made a heart. They explained to us that it means love, so eventually we started doing it back.

"In Poland we received first and they received second, and on the podium we made the heart sign to them and they were in tears because of our interaction with them. That made such a big impact on them and us."

US National Team makes a love sign to their Japanese counterparts in Poland.
US National Team makes a love sign to their Japanese counterparts in Poland.US National Team makes a love sign to their Japanese counterparts in Poland.

Null is competing in her fourth and final World Cheerleading Championships this season and is hoping to keep her unbeaten record in the Coed Premier in tact.

You can catch her in action April 26, as the final day of the 2019 Cheerleading World Championships is streamed live on the Olympic Channel here.

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!