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Young cheerleader champ prepares for Florida contest

A NINE-year-old girl is set to become the youngest cheerleader to represent Ireland at the upcoming world championships in Florida.

Lauryn Keogh is training hard for the cheerleading championship event, which will see the Irish team competing with squads from all over the world.

Lauryn, who is from Clare Hall in north Dublin, is an All Ireland cheerleading champion, which was how she came to be selected for the national squad Team Ireland.

"She won the competition last October with a performance of a solo piece," her mum Wendy said.

Following that win, Lauryn got a call asking her to be on the Irish team.

Lauryn, who has sister Alex aged just eight months, is one of the members of the junior squad on Team Ireland. A senior squad will also compete in the April event.

Now in fourth class, she attends Bayside Senior School in Sutton and trains with the North Dublin Wildcats cheerleading squad.

The intense preparation includes around six hours during the week with the Wildcats and another three hours every Sunday with the Irish team in Celbridge.

Wendy said that Lauryn is thrilled about the opportunity to go to the Florida event.

"She had been doing hip hop dancing since she was about three," Wendy said.

When she was seven, her mum saw an advertisement for cheerleading, and Lauryn decided to give it a go. Cheerleading is a very physical sport, according to Wendy. She pointed out that it is also a very challenging sport with lots of flips, gymnastics and stunts.

"It's all about teamwork and trust; it's a fantastic sport for both genders to take part in," she said.

Due to the current economic environment, the athletes are required to pay all their costs to attend the Florida competition, as there are not many possibilities of sponsorship.

"It is an expensive trip and I want to try to fundraise as much as possible," said Wendy.

Donations can be made online via PayPal at www.cheerleader lauryn.co.nr.