Beijing: Making their debut, over 50 women from China military's honour guards today stole the show at the full dress rehearsal of the September 3 military parade to commemorate the victory against Japan in WWII.
While huge weaponry deployed by the People's Liberation Army caught the attention, the cynosure of the parade, however, were the women honour guards.
A total of 51 servicewomen from the Army, Navy and Air Force will marched alongside 156 male honour guards in the massive parade that will witness participation of many world leaders and over 10 foreign military forces, including from Russia and Kazakhstan.
The servicewomen were first deployed in May this year to present the guard of honour for the visiting leaders.
They are the first women in the 63-year history of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) honour guards to take part in a parade.
Each of them had to work hard to find place as they were chosen according to strict standards.
The initial competition was intense and lasted three rounds. Each woman had to march before a panel of judges.
Out of the PLA's existing 120 women honour guards, only 62 made the cut.
The number will trim further, with only 51 spots available for the big day, the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported.
"For each line of guards, their heads, hands, guns, legs, ... And hats must be in a level line and the formation must have a clear transverse line, vertical line and diagonal line," said Liu Shixu, a senior colonel and a chief coach of the 11 foot formations taking part in the parade.
Although there is no specific weight requirement, they must be physically fit, said Cheng Cheng, a lieutenant and one of the honour guards.
They have trained at least eight hours every day, often under an intense sun, six days a week since June, marching and turning their heads until they move as one.
Army physicians are on stand-by 24 hours a day because of the immense physical challenge.