It's enough to make any parent grimace as these children are contorted into the most uncomfortable positions. Aged between four and seven, the young gymnasts are put through a rigorous stretching routine by their coaches during a training session.
Her face etched with pain, a child trains for Olympic glory while her gymnastics trainer stands on her legs.
Boys hang from a bar for five minutes as part of a physical training exercise at the Gymnastics Hall of the Shanghai University of Sports. The photo was part of Nir Elias's series "Pain Threshold -- Sports Education in China."
Nir Elias. Reuters. 2007
Torture at the Xiantao sports school in Hubei province, China. For five-and-six-year-olds the joints of the boys are bent beyond their limits in order to create a permanent joint stretch. If this is not done at an early age, certain gymnastic moves are not possible when they are older. © Michael Wolf
A young gymnast in Russia is forced to be flexible. Picture courtesy of Aleksei N.
A girl from the Nanjing children's gymnastic team, with her hands tied on the horizontal bar, prepares for her practice during a training session at a sports center in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, July 6, 2012. The team with about thirty young gymnasts, between the ages of four to eight, is the representative of Nanjing city for the provincial gymnastic games.