Graduate aiming for success in international cheerleading championship

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Date: 16th Apr 2018

A Buckinghamshire New University graduate is heading Stateside to Disney World to compete in an international cheerleading competition - despite being diagnosed with chronic fatigue (ME) in her teens.

Becca Callaghan, 22, who studied BA (Hons) Dance and Fitness, graduating in 2017, won a place on Team England Paracheer after becoming involved in cheerleading while at the University.Rebecca Callaghan

She is part of Swindon Academy of Dance, in Wiltshire, and the team will compete against more than 60 countries at the International Cheer Union (ICU) Cheerleading Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World in Florida at the end of April.

“Teams from all over the world, including China, America, Japan, and Germany, will be there, which is quite exciting,” said Becca, who is also working as a shift manager at a gym.

Becca was part of the BNU Swans, the cheerleading squad, at Bucks New University, and twice won national championships.

Her coach at the University encouraged her to join a national team and she successfully auditioned for Team England Paracheer and joined in the summer.

She added: “Being part of the BNU Swans was my springboard into the world of cheerleading and I am now extremely excited to see where my involvement with the England Paracheer team will take me.

“I’ve made great friends and am looking forward to competing with them and representing my country. Anyone with a disability shouldn’t give up their dream as there are always organisations that can help.”

The International Cheer Union (ICU) Cheerleading Championships will see Team England Paracheer perform a two-and-a-half minute show in a heat to judges before hoping to win a place in the final.

Becca was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, characterised by extreme fatigue or tiredness, aged 15.

She added: “At the time I missed nearly a month of school and was dreading doing my GCSEs. It had a major impact.

“I had to stop dancing and re-train myself how to live as a teenager because I couldn’t do the normal things that people do. It was quite hard.

“As I learned to cope with it I was able to slowly introduce dance back into my life.

“I have to pace myself and take days off to recover before I can do anything else but it gets easier to cope with and I can read the warning signs now.”

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