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Cheerleaders shrug off critics

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-25 14:11
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Cheerleaders shrug off critics
Bikini-clad cheerleaders during the beach volleyball competition are one of the biggest attractions for spectators and media at the Asian Games. [Photo/China Daily]

Guangzhou - Wowing the crowds with their dazzling routines, bikini-clad cheerleaders have made beach volleyball one of the hottest attractions at the Asian Games - thanks to a player who jokingly blamed them for being a distraction.

Yemen's Adeeb Mahfoudh "complained" that his team was too busy watching the girls to concentrate on the game in a loss to Indonesia on Nov 16.

"I am just kidding," Mahfoundh added. "These girls are very beautiful. With them here, more people will pay attention to beach volleyball - and that's a good thing. If I can, I hope to watch them perform again."

The organizer took Adeeb's "charge" seriously, instructing the girls to tone down their routines before the knockout stage of the competition.

"That (criticism) is totally undeserved the organizer and media shouldn't take the kidding so seriously, " said Vanessa Leung, captain of the Magic Dolls, one of the four cheerleader squads hired by the organizer to entertain fans during game breaks.

"We only dance and perform when the players are resting off the court. When they resume playing, we go back to the locker-room for a costume change. It's impossible for us to distract them during the game."

Wang Xueer, captain of another team called Fashion Dance, echoed Leung's words.

"We are here to be seen. The bikinis and dancing are part of the show. Spectators are thrilled by our passion and energy," said Wang.

Sun Jianzhang, media operations officer at the beach volleyball venue, sided with the cheerleaders.

"Honestly, I am surprised by the attendance here. I never imagined that there would be so many fans and media focus on beach volleyball. The cheerleaders have contributed a lot," said Sun.

While their public performances look glamorous, the cheerleaders' off-court preparation is quite opposite.

The girls get up at 5 in the morning to prepare for a full day of performing that can last up to 18 hours.

In addition to long days, they must cope with every type of weather condition, along with the physical strain of jumping and dancing for extended periods.

And all the cheerleaders are volunteers, so there's no pay.

Wang's squad, which performed at the same event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also works with the Chinese Basketball Association champion Guangdong Hongyuan, is well versed in the differences between dancing on sand and hardwood.

"We choreographed several routines based on our dances for the basketball games, but the beach is too soft to spin or jump on. We have to make the action more simple and graceful," said Wang.

Besides cheering, the girls also perform routines that include such traditional Chinese elements as martial arts and fan dancing.


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