WATCH: Pole Dancing World Championships held in China

ABOVE: Hundreds of the world’s best pole dancers compete in the World Pole Dance Championships in China

Erotic performance or serious sport and fitness?

Pole dancers from 14 countries who gathered in Beijing for the annual World Pole Dance Championships gave their answers: we are poling for art and sport.

With music pounding to a steady beat, pole dancers jerked their way up a steel pole and posed displays of strength and fitness in front of judges and hundreds of audience members Sunday.

Thunderous applause erupted in the theatre in Beijing, as the finals of the World Pole Dance Chanpionships concluded after a 10 hour competition.

25-year-old Russian pole dancer Galina Musina won the heart of judges and became the newly crowded winner of the women’s singles.

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“I am so happy and I am very surprised that I won. It’s my dream,” Musina told AP after receiving her medal and certificate from organisers.

About 50 pole dancers, women and men, from 14 countries including U.K., Russia, Argetina, Ukraine, Chile, Philippines and host China, participated in this year’s competitions.

“I hope pole dancing can become more popular. It’s a nice sport and I wish more dancers start this sport and it becomes an Olympic sport (in the future),” said the new champion.

READ MORE: Winnipegger stripping away pole dancing stereotypes

Pole dancers have launched several petitions calling for Olympic authorities to add their sport to the next Olympic Games, but so far have seen no success.

Organizers hope the competitions can help promote pole dancing as a serious sport all over the world.

“We have been creating the most professional and powerful unity across our different cultures and community ethics. We are also about contribution to our fellow sport dancing competitors. We are building a platform for the highest level of confidence and empowerment for both men and women on the pole,” said Kay Penny, Chairwoman of The World Pole Dance Association and Co-organizer of this year’s World Pole Dance Championships.

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Pole dancing has gained increasing popularity in China and over 100,000 people practise pole dancing in hundreds of fitness studios and training schools, organizers said.

More and more people worldwide now consider pole dancing a fitness aid too.

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