The World Rhythmic Gymastics Champions show off their flexibility

Warning: do not try this at home.

This past Sunday marked the end of the 2009 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, held in Ise, Mie, Japan. Last week, the women with the least number of bones in their body traveled from all over the world to out-split, out-bend and out-contort one another. Individual events included all-around, hoop, ball, rope and my personal fave, individual ribbon. Groups competed in all-around, hoops, ribbons and ropes, for a the-more-the-limber-er flexibility fest.

Hell, I can’t even do the splits, yet these competitors defied anatomy and delivered.

Monika Mincheva of Bulgaria outdoes herself in the ball qualifying round

Zeynab Javadli of Azerbaijan tries her hardest to lick her calf muscles in the hoop event

Silver medalist Daria Kondakova puts a new twist on Double Dutch in the rope event

Taiwan’s Lai Ying-Tzu paints with all the colors of the wind in the ribbon event

Standout gymnast among the medalists was superstar and super-flexible Evgenia Kanaeva of Russia, for obliterating the competition in ribbon, rope, hoop, ball and all-around — in other words, for winning everything. I hated those kinds of girls in high school — you know, the ones that were good at everything — but how can you be mad at this?

Or this?

Russian silver medalist Daria Kondakova, Russian gold medalist Evgeniya Kanaeva, Ukrainian bronze medalist Anna Bessonova

Team USA was notably absent from the competition, with only a rank of 16 in the Groups All-Around Finals. Nonetheless, the competition was incredible to watch and, thanks to these talented ladies, I now have a permanent crick in my neck from turning my head so much trying to keep up with them.

Though there was limited coverage in the media, did anyone catch the championships?

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