The unbelievably bendy bodies of Olympic women’s gymnastics

Watching women compete live in elite gymnastics is thrilling, but the still camera captures what the moving camera cannot: the incredible flexibility of these world-class athletes. Spines arch, feet flex, ribcages expand, and legs split apart in mind-boggling ways. Never doubt how powerful and awe-inpsiring women can be.

Canada's Rose Woo competes in the qualifying for the women's Uneven Bars event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

Canada's Rose Woo, with her hips over her head and her feet in a different zip code and time zone.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07:  Yan Wang of China  during Women's qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)Getty Images

Wang Yan of China is almost head over heels.

TOPSHOT - South Korea's Lee Goim competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

South Korea's Lee Goim takes flight.

TOPSHOT - Germany's Pauline Schaefer competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

Germany's Pauline Schaefer gets bent out of shape.

Netherlands' Eythora Thorsdottir competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

Netherlands' Eythora Thorsdottir leans in.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07:  Simone Biles of the United States competes on the balance beam during Women's qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)Getty Images

Simone Biles of the United States gets ready to flip out.

US gymnast Lauren Hernandez competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez gets a leg up on the competition.

TOPSHOT - Poland's Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

It's a reach for Poland's Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska.

France's Louise Vanhille competes in the qualifying for the women's Vault event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP / Thomas COEX        (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)AFP/Getty Images

France's Louise Vanhille bends over backwards for Rio.

 

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