Kayleigh hopes to twirl her way to a world title

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TEENAGER Kayleigh Smith is hoping to win a world title when she represents Britain at the baton twirling championships.

The 14-year-old will compete at the event in Nottingham in August.

Kayleigh Smith

Kayleigh Smith

Kayleigh said she was thrilled about being chosen for the competition.

She said: ‘I’m excited but also nervous about seeing it all for the first time.’

Kayleigh’s two-minute routine, created by her coach, will involve her dressing up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

She will not only have to throw her baton and perform tricks to music from the famous film, but show the emotions Dorothy goes through as she tries to find her way back to her Kansas farm.

Kayleigh, who lives in Portsmouth, said: ‘The theme is really about getting home.

‘She starts off scared and then she learns to get there.’

Kayleigh, who is in Year 9 at Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth, said she had been doing baton twirling since she was six years old.

She said she practised about 15 hours a week and had made baton twirling friends from as far away as Scotland.

Kayleigh said: ‘I like it because it’s different.

‘I like to practise all the tricks and make sure they’re all secure for the competition. And I like to win.’

Kayleigh has already been to baton twirling European championships twice and is off to Germany in July to compete in them again.

Although there are a couple of baton-twirling groups in Portsmouth, Kayleigh practises with an Essex-based team called the Bellettes.

Her mum Amanda Smith said the sport was often misunderstood.

She said: ‘A lot of people think it’s a bit like majorettes but baton twirlers get offended when you say that.

‘It’s very much about doing tricks. It’s gymnastics and dance-based but incorporating the baton, but they don’t do marching like the majorettes.’

Amanda said the sport required flexibility, grace and strength.

‘They have to throw the batons up really high to be able to do tricks underneath them.

‘At Kayleigh’s level she does tricks like cartwheels, and others called walk-overs and illusions.’