Where pole position is 10ft off the ground

It inevitably conjures up images of seedy clubs with middle aged men enjoying erotic dancing.

But nothing could have been further from the truth at the Telford International Centre when it hosted the UK National Pole Dancing Championships.

For in the audience of about 500, at least 90 per cent were women and instead of pints on the table there were water bottles or energy drinks.

And this was pure athletics – the skills on show being Cirque de Soliel meeting Olympic gymnastics; Fame or Strictly and all taking place on two, four metre tall, stainless steel poles on a podium in the centre of the auditorium. 

With three categories – instructors, professionals and elite – each competitor had one music track to wow the judges during yesterday’s competition.

And their fitness was second to none. As for the contortions they could do, any of us would be delighted to perform them safely on the ground never mind 10ft up a pole, defying gravity by anchoring themselves just by their ankle.

There was certainly nothing sleazy about the competitors, 30 woman and none other than Mr Pole Fitness UK himself, 25-year-old Dan Rosen, from Hemel Hempstead.

He said: “A lot of mums enjoy pole dancing as a way to keep fit and the teenagers also love it. I started after going into a club in Milton Keynes that had a couple of poles that people were messing about on. I had a go and thought, this is brilliant. I had some lessons and went from there.”

One of the top performers was the aptly named, Bendy Kate. Real name Kate Czepulkowski, she was second in the world championships this year.

The 23-year-old enjoyed gymnastics as a child and fell in love with pole dancing after joining a club at university. She said: “I am now a freelance circus performer and hand balancer and I teach classes.”

Elite category: winner, Bendy Kate;  runner up, Lisette Krol.

Professional: winner, Leah Rose; runner up, Amy Williams. Instructor: winner: Annalisa Muresu; runner up: Laura Pearson.

Other categories: best entertainer, Kristina Walker; best choreography, Julia Borccetti;  best tricks, Bendy Kate; best flexibility, Steph Foster; sponsors choice, Dan Rosen.

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