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Shannon Gardiner of South Africa competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Shannon Gardiner of South Africa competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.Feng Li—Getty Images
Shannon Gardiner of South Africa competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Irina Annenkova of Russia competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Irina Annenkova of Russia competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Laura Zeng of the United States competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Irina Annenkova of Russia competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Laura Zeng of the United States competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Takana Tatsuzawa of Japan competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Takana Tatsuzawa of Japan competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Gymnasium on Aug. 26, 2014 in Nanjing.
Shannon Gardiner of South Africa competes in Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around Qualification on day ten of the N
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Feng Li—Getty Images
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Here Are 8 Bizarre Yet Beautiful Photos of Women's Rhythmic Gymnastics

Aug 26, 2014
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Gymnasts are known for their incredible flexibility, but rhythmic gymnasts take it to new levels, wrapping their bodies around ribbons, clubs, balls and hoops—all with a dazzling smile.

The secret to their rubber-band like contortions? Hours and hours of training, including more time spent in splits—hanging from bars or stretched across foam blocks—than the rest of us would consider humane. These athletes, competing at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, represent the eight top-scoring qualifiers in mind-bending acrobatic routines in the individual all-around finals.

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