SUPER-FIT teams from across the UK put their stamina to the test at the weekend during the National Cheerleading Championships.

Despite popular belief, there wasn’t a pom pom in sight at Bournemouth International Centre’s Windsor Hall as 16,000 cheerleaders, dressed in figure-hugging Lycra and sequins, competed for the top trophies.

Dorset’s hopes were firmly pinned on the Bournemouth-based Elite team who practiced their polished moves in the Lower Gardens on Saturday morning, much to the delight of onlookers.

Between their gruelling routines, senior coach Amie Stebbing, 21, said: “Cheerleading has changed – it’s not what people imagine. There are no pom poms, it’s now a high-energy mix of dancing, lifting and gymnastics.

“Cheerleading has become one of the most world’s most dangerous sports because of the lifts and tumbles which happen at the same time.

“I’ve broken my ribs and torn my hamstrings. It’s incredibly challenging but great fun. We train at Ashdown leisure centre in Poole every Saturday. Since September we’ve been training for five hours a week in preparation for our two and a half minute performance at the BIC.”

She said: “The competition is really tough.”

Speaking after the event, office worker Amie, from Bearwood, said: “It’s the fourth time the championships have been staged in Bournemouth – our senior team came fourth which was a great result, considering the competition, and our junior team came tenth.”

As expected the Unity team from Milton Keynes swept the boards, taking the both senior and junior trophies.