Finland's Oona Kivela took pole position at the International Pole Dancing Championships in Hong Kong on Friday 27 November. Pole dancing champions from more than 10 countries competed in several categories.
Kivela said the stigma associated with pole dancing was not that prevalent anymore. "There is still so much exotic pole around. And I understand, how can people not know, when let's say, a stripper and an exotic pole-dancer could style-wise look extremely the same. Or tempting, with the high heels and whatever. There are so many genres I can't keep up. But we have this style. And I don't think the pole necessarily defines the style at all. I think the dancers do," she said.
Australian Deb Roach, who was born with one arm, won the 'disabled' category in the championships.
The pole dance artist, circus performer, and fitness instructor said there was a big community of disabled people she wanted to represent.
"These guys are incredible. Just to share the stage with them is such an honour for me. And being surrounded by this greatness. By the highest level in this sport and art form is what inspires me and motivates me and pushes me to up my game and push my body to do what most people would consider to be impossible. And what I used to think was impossible," said Roach.
Australian candidate Kristy Sellars won performer of the year and top prize for artistry for a Sherlock Holmes-inspired routine.
A rookie Russian duo, Evgeny Greshilov and Kira Noire, won best couples routine, despite it being their first time performing together in a competition.
Competitors from countries including Argentina, Australia, Finland, Japan, UK and USA were in competition for 11 world titles in five divisions: Mens, Womens, Doubles, Disabled and Masters.
The International Pole Dancing Championships was founded in 2008 by Ania Pzeplasko, who is lobbying for Pole Dance Fitness to be recognised as a sport by the Olympic committee.