MILWAUKEE — For many people, cheerleading may be synonymous with basketball or football games. But the cheer athletes want the sport to be recognized in it's own right, and that includes the chance to compete on the Olympic stage.
Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee awarded full recognition to the International Cheer Union, which puts cheerleaders one step closer to their Olympic dreams.
The International Cheer Union still has to petition for the sport to be included in the Olympic Games. But that could be as early as the Paris 2024 Olympics.
"The work that they put into it, and the hours in the gym are paying off on the world stage," said UW Milwaukee Cheer Head Coach, Emily Bauman.
Bauman has been coaching cheer for over a decade, and has been the coach at UWM for the last five years.
She said people don't always realize the athleticism involved in cheerleading, and that the sport has it's own competitions separate from performing at other sporting events.
"It's a lot more than the u-rah-rah that's associated with cheerleading. There's elements of tumbling, which is a lot of gymnastics. There are elements of acro, so building on one another and putting individuals into the air," Bauman said of the sport.
Although it's unclear how cheerleading would be formatted in the Olympic games, the recognition from the International Olympic Committee is the first step to realizing Olympic dreams.
Although you won't see cheerleading in Tokyo this year, several other sports are in the Olympic for the first time this year, including karate, skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing.