Katelyn Ohashi is used to performing under pressure. But she admits that the level of attention she has received recently has felt “really different.”
The 21-year-old gymnast took the internet by storm after a video of her “perfect 10” floor routine went viral.
While her routine was perfect, her tumbling passes were stunningly challenging, and one of them had such a high degree of difficulty that her team “had to resubmit it because it wasn’t in the code of points” for the judges, the 21-year-old said on Good Morning America.
Her coach at UCLA, Valorie Kondos Field, added about the pass, “It’s ridiculously hard. I don’t know another female gymnast in the country that does it — in the world that does it.”
It was the fourth time in her career she received perfect 10 in the event, and she finished the 2018 season ranked No. 1 in the country in floor exercise and was the NCAA floor exercise co-champion, according to UCLA.
The clip of Katelyn perfectly executing seemingly gravity-defying flips and sassy dance moves has been viewed more than 60 million times, and made headlines around the world.
But what is it like to be at the centre of this whirlwind? “The whole experience has been totally crazy,” Katelyn told the BBC. “My phone just blew up when the video went out. It’s just totally hectic. She hopes to still be able to “fly under the radar” sometimes, and jokes she “feels horrible for actual famous people. This is their actual lives!”
When asked who she was most excited about having seen her performance, Katelyn immediately said, “Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec!” Her choice of Jean-Ralphio, a character played by actor Ben Schwartz on hit TV show Parks and Recreation, hints at one part of her personality. Many online have called her “full of joy,” having an “infectious passion” and “so fun.”
Katelyn is keenly aware that it is these traits, along with her undeniable technical ability, that makes her performance so compelling. “My coach, Ms. Val, always reminds me that when people watch me they need to have fun. “That’s why I’ve been really touched by people saying things like ‘this is the sort of positivity we need right now.’ It’s a nice change.”