A seat in the arena isn’t always the best way to take in a sport. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, photographers covering gymnastics were dispatched to every corner of the gym to offer a unique perspective one of the Games’ most visually compelling sports. When athletes move faster than the eye can comprehend, a photographer’s lens can render split-seconds with captivating detail—bringing into focus otherwise indiscernible moments like the flecks of chalk spraying from the uneven bars. They can also blur a gymnast in motion to reveal the path of her complex maneuvers.
A birds-eye view of the balance beam by AP’s Morry Gash offers a unique view of a fateful stumble, while a photo by Reuters’ Damir Sagolj pans along Simone Biles’ approach to the vault. Meanwhile, a multiple exposure image created by Getty’s Amin Mohammad Jamali tracks a gymnast tumbling along the beam.
Here, TIME assembles some of the best images of gymnastics in Rio.
- Taylor Swift Is TIME's 2023 Person of the Year
- Meet the Nation Builders
- Why Cell Phone Reception Is Getting Worse
- Column: It's Time to Scrap the Abraham Accords
- Israeli Family Celebrates Release of Hostage Grandmother
- In a New Movie, Beyoncé Finds Freedom
- The Top 100 Photos of 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time