In cheerleading gyms around North Texas, young athletes are building new Olympic dreams after the International Olympic Committee announced it would officially recognize cheerleading as an Olympic sport.
The designation from the IOC came a couple of weeks back, but Tyson Thomas, co-owner of Arlington’s Rebel Yell Cheer, said cheerleading leaders have pushed for it for years.
“It’s pretty tough. I’m not going to lie. It’s a rough sport. I’ve gotten a couple of concussions. I’ve gotten lots of dings, a lot of bruises, blood sweat and tears, and it’s about time it’s being recognized as a sport,” said Thomas.
It’s a move advocates say could mean greater development support for the sport along with funding.
The International Cheer Union President Jeff Webb wrote in a statement:
"The IOC's actions have created a monumental milestone for cheerleading. We are truly honored to receive this recognition by the Executive Board of the IOC. This decision will greatly assist us as we strive to create opportunities for healthy participation and competition for millions of Cheer athletes worldwide."
Based on the increase in enrollment Thomas said they’ve seen thanks to the “Simone Biles effect,” he believes it could also mean a boost for local gyms like his.
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“I think a lot of kids would look at it and be like, I want to be a cheerleader in the Olympics. I want to do it,” said Thomas.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s an acknowledgment for the hard work athletes like 14-year-old Skylar Thomas put in each day.
“We just feel like it’s finally getting recognized as what it should be,” said Skylar Thomas.
There are still some steps before cheerleading makes its Olympic debut, but the International Cheer Union hopes the first medals can be handed out at the 2028 games in Los Angeles.