UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi has become a star on social media after a mindblowing performance—for which she received a perfect 10—at a recent Collegiate Challenge. A video of her routine has shared by thousands of people worldwide, and just the videos shared by UCLA have garnered over 50 million views.
In a floor routine set to a medley of songs by Michael Jackson, including ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ and ‘I Want You Back’, Ohashi set the stage on fire. There were graceful moves, dance steps, numerous backflips and splits in the 2-minute routine that ended to thunderous applause from the audience and her teammates.
— UCLA Gymnastics (@uclagymnastics) January 13, 2019
But it’s not her routine alone that is being cited as being inspirational. Ohashi’s journey and struggle, coupled with injuries and body-shaming have is making the 21-year-old gymnast an inspiration for many online.
“I’ve been told I looked like I swallowed an elephant or a pig, whichever was more fitting that day,” Ohashi wrote in a blog post in August 2017. “I was compared to a bird that was too fat to lift itself off the ground.”
Ohashi is the reigning NCAA co-champion in floor exercises and was also a 2018 NCAA team champion. However, before UCLA, she was competing at the highest level of gymnastics until she injured her back and shoulder, reports The Players’ Tribune. Ohashi, who once beat Olympian gymnast Simone Biles when she was just 15, nearly quit the sport altogether due to not being able to keep up with the criticism, especially about her weight gain, The Independent reported.
Viral gymnastics sensation @katelyn_ohashi addresses her past insecurities and doubts in an original poem: “I am my own size and no words or stares will make me compromise” https://t.co/yW8Gk6BSpQ pic.twitter.com/YvFlsXZLb6
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 17, 2019
For now, all of that seems to be in the past. Her routine that has gone viral was “ridiculously hard”, according to her coach Valorie Kondos Field.
“It’s ridiculous how much she does in that routine that she doesn’t have to do,” Field told LA Times, adding, “I’ve never seen her perform like that.”