A 38-year-old American with no previous sport or dance experience until nine years ago took home the title of ultimate champion in the women’s category of the International Pole Championship on Saturday night, November 30, 2013.

Natasha Wang, who is of Chinese descent, won the award after her routine inspired by the Chinese legend of Madame White Snake. More than 1,000 people attended the event, held at the National University of Singapore’s University Cultural Centre.

Organised annually by the International Pole Dance Fitness Association, the competition was held in Singapore for the first time this year. The event drew 30 of the world’s best pole dancers from 12 countries, including Finland, Australia, Singapore and the United States.

Ms Wang, who lives in Los Angeles, says she was completely unathletic and never participated in any sport or dance until she was 29. “I’m completely elated,” she told The Straits Times. “This win means a lot to me, because I was considering not even competing this year.”

Her fellow American, 23-year-old Derick Pierson, won the top award in the men’s category. The three other competition divisions were women’s disabled, doubles and masters. Contestants were judged for their technique, originality and choreography.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on December 1, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.