A Northland girl has been recognised as one of the top up-and-coming stars of the cheerleading world.

Okaihau 11-year-old Grace Hegh is one of 20 young cheerleaders worldwide touted by top American cheerleading footwear brand Nfinity.

The Nfinity Legends Awards acknowledge all the top cheerleaders from around the globe, and are entered by athletes submitting videos of their skills online.

Grace, a cheerleader for Whangarei's Fantasy Cheerleading gym and Auckland's All Star, was among 20 "Future Legends" announced by Nfinity last week.


"I was shocked," Grace told the Northern Advocate. "It's awesome, it's just amazing."

Her mother Andrea Hegh said it was a remarkable feat, particularly given Nfinity Legends award winners were predominantly American.

"America is cheerleading. It's one thing to say she's an amazing talent in New Zealand, but then it's another thing to go up against the big guys and win," Mrs Hegh said.

Add the fact that when the video entries were due in, Grace had only just returned to the cheerleading gym after two months off, following a major accident.

She had been tumbling on an inflatable track at her fundraising gala last November, when the wind picked up both her and the track and flicked her tiny 29kg frame over a car and head-first on to concrete.

Grace was rushed to Whangarei Hospital with a head injury that required stitches, a sprained hip and a dislodged growth plate in her elbow, and was only cleared by doctors to tumble again a few weeks before the video entries for Nfinity were due in.

Grace's winning entry included footage of her doing standing tumbling, running tumbling and stunting, and can be viewed on YouTube.

The international acknowledgment has been a great motivator for Grace, who has only five weeks to go until the All Star Games in Las Vegas.

Grace is adamant that she is "fine" following the accident.

Mrs Hegh says she is still having occasional physio treatment to make sure she is in peak physical condition for her trip to the US.

The family still has to raise $3500 to get Grace over to the games.

Donations are welcome, the fundraising account is ANZ 06-0977-0800220-00.