'Perfect 10': Meet Katelyn Ohashi, the gymnast behind the viral video sensation (VIDEO)
UCLA gymnast Ohashi stunned the gymnastics world with an outstanding, Michael Jackson-inspired routine last weekend which has set the internet ablaze with much appreciation for the 21 year old's skills.
It lasted just a minute and a half, but by the time it was over it was apparent to anyone watching that Katelyn Ohashi had just achieved something special.
In those 90 seconds Ohashi's floor routine, which was soundtracked by Tina Turner, Earth, Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson, was executed flawlessly, earning her a perfect score from the judges.
Furthermore it wasn't just the ease with which Ohashi appeared to execute the gravity-defying moves, it was the sassy style of confidence exuded throughout which signposted it as one of the best floor routines ever performed, according to seasoned gymnasts and fans alike.
The clip, which was released on Sunday, has gone viral and (at the time of writing) is fast approaching the 20 million views mark.
However, the position of being an online viral sensation is nothing new for the American. A routine she performed at the Pac-12 gymnastics championships in 2018, again inspired by Michael Jackson, has gathered 4 million of views on YouTube.
That 2018 performance left UCLA Coach Valorie Kondos Field openly wondering how Ohashi could possibly eclipse it. That was, until last weekend.
What is even more remarkable was that it is just the second time that she has ever performed this particular routine in a competitive setting. The first was on January 04.
"Her whole floor routine is ridiculously hard," Ohashi's coach said. "Every single thing about it including the backward split that she does after her leap pass — it’s insane."
I was a gymnast and still watch a lot, this is the most exciting floor routine I’ve ever seen. So much energy and perfectly executed.— MoonaNV (@Moona9) January 13, 2019
This triumph made even more poignant by Ohashi’s path to happiness: “I was broken. I was told I was too big; like a bird that couldn’t fly. This sport can be brutal, but I don’t think it has to be:” https://t.co/NNaCDGSCnYhttps://t.co/4h2wmmCNWK— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 14, 2019
Ohashi has been competing in gymnastics since an early age and at one point was considered a contender for the US Olympic team, before injury and other issues obscured the path to her goal.
In 2013, Ohashi beat future four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles, though in a candid interview with Players Tribune called 'I Was Broken', she spoke of how she was forced to abandon her Olympic dreams.
"There was a time where I was on top of the world, an Olympic hopeful," Ohashi says in the video. "I was unbeatable, until I wasn't."
Eventually, Ohashi opted to step away from elite level gymnastics in favor of competing at a collegiate level and credits her UCLA coach Kondos Field with reinvigorating her. In addition, she came to realize that in the latter part of her elite career she had been competing with a fractured back and two torn shoulders.
"It took me finding Ms. Val [Kondos Field] and UCLA and having a different goal and path to follow, to finally find joy and love within the sport again," Ohashi said.
"I haven’t been able to feel this type of happiness in a long time."
Ohashi elaborated further on the new lease of life she feels on the gymnastics mat, saying that she has entirely re-evaluated the reasons for participating in the sport.
"It’s not the outcome. It’s not me standing on the podium with medals. It’s me being able to walk out with a smile on my face and truly being happy with myself."
As impressive as the routine was, Ohashi did reserve one slice of criticism for her performance.
"Now I just gotta learn to clap on the beat," she joked on Twitter, offering also a selection of laughing emojis.