At height of cheerdance hype, Milo official admits gymnastics losing ground

A gymnast performs a ribbon routine. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

STA. CRUZ, Laguna--The collegiate cheerleading competitions have drastically evolved in recent years.

From a simple game of pep squads showcasing their best traditional cheering formations, rhythmic gymnastics and some dancing were added to the fray, creating some of the most-watched cheerdance events ever, either on TV or live in flesh.

With gymnasts now getting recruited to perennial cheerdance powerhouses like NU, UP, Perpetual Help, and Central Colleges, are we now in a time when traditional gymnastics is losing significance?

Robbie De Vera, one of the head organizers of the Milo Little Olympics, admitted to Dugout Philippines on Saturday during the gymnastics competition of the national finals at the San Luis Sports Complex that joining college pep squads has been the preferred direction of gymnasts nowadays.

"Traditionally, the kids would move toward cheerdance because that's the logical next step, considering it's an entertaining form of gymnastics," De Vera said.

While he still sees cheerdance as a radically different sport than gymnastics despite the latest trend, he also bared another reason why the latter is losing ground.

"We don't have enough infrastructure to really support gymnastics," De Vera revealed.

To prove his claim, the gymnastics and the basketball officials had to share the basketball arena the entire day because of lack of alternative venues. The gymnastics event took place in between the morning and the evening basketball sessions.

"We're hoping that the PSC or the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines can really help in that aspect," De Vera continued.

But despite the decreasing hype in the sport, De Vera vowed that the leading energy drink among young Filipinos will still extend its hand in building up the next in line to the likes of Bea Lucero.

"Milo will continue to support gymnastics, and we're hoping that even the fellow Filipinos will also support gymnastics because it's a buildup for cheerdance," he further said.

Meanwhile, De Vera hinted that the newest gymnastic sensations, whether in the traditional field or in the cheerleading circuit, could come from the south.

He evaluated, "I found [this year's gymnastics competition] very interesting. We saw a lot of new winners coming from the Visayas region. Visayas has stepped up their game."

Visayas finished runner-up to South Luzon in both the elementary and the high school levels with some Visayan gymnasts even winning it all in particular disciplines.

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