A schoolgirl is practising hard to represent her country and take on the world’s best in the latest junior sporting craze - speed stacking.
Sophia Hachat, 11, from Market Deeping, competes for Team USA in the high-speed sport, which involves stacking and un-stacking plastic cups in various combinations.
The Bourne Academy pupil has already taken part in international tournaments and is currently training for the 2014 WSSA World Sport Stacking Championships, which take place in Seoul, South Korea, in April.
Sophia first got involved in speed stacking three years ago as a pupil at Sampson Elementary School in Texas.
She said: “It’s all about focus and practice. I practice one or two hours a day, or longer when it’s competition time. But I enjoy it.”
Sophia has had plenty of support from Bourne Academy since she and her family moved to England. The school has given her time off to compete at this year’s world championships.
And Sophia, whose best time is about two seconds short of the world record, is prepared for Seoul. She said: “You don’t really notice the big crowds because you are more nervous about the judge.”
Sophia’s parents are happy to offer plenty of support to their daughter as well.
Mother Vicky said: “From a parent’s perspective we love it because it teaches discipline and practice. And it’s a really supportive environment.”
Reporter Alex Moore challenged Sophia to a speed stacking duel. You can see his attempts in the video above, but here’s what he had to say about going toe-to-toe with a whirlwind.
“When I first heard of Sophia’s skills I had a quick look on YouTube to see what speed stacking was like.
“The world record speeds seemed a little daunting, but I was determined to have a go. So when I went to speak to Sophia on Monday I challenged her to a duel.
“She patiently took me through the basics of the 3-3-3 - three stacks of three cups, put up then taken down from left to right. It seemed easy enough, or so I thought.
“But when I matched up side-by-side with Sophia, I quickly realised how difficult the stacks were to put up at speed. I was still fumbling with my second stack when Sophia stopped and turned to look at me triumphantly.
“Undeterred, I then tried the 3-6-3. This beast features a stack of six cups in the middle of the two sets of three.
“It did not go well.
“I managed the first three, but the challenge of stacking six cups at speed was way in advance of my co-ordination levels.
“Fair play Sophia - you’ve definitely got talent!”
Speed stacking - the facts
- Speed stacking, also known as sport stacking or cup stacking, was invented in California in the early 1980s by Wayne Godinet. It gained national fame when Wayne was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
- The World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA, originally the World Cup Stacking Association) was formed in 2001 to promote and govern the game around the world.
- Five types of stacks are used in official competitions, ranging from the 3-3-3 - three stacks made up of three cups each - to the doubles, where two competitors use one hand each.
- World records are fiercely contested. The best time for the most complicated stack, the cycle, was set at 5.494 seconds by William Polly last year.