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Three simple success secrets from Katelyn Ohashi, aka the world’s most joyful gymnast

Posted by
Anna Brech
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Want a little more pep in your life? Take heed from the woman who stunned the world and became a viral sensation with her exuberant floor routine.

When American gymnast Katelyn Ohashi performed her “perfect 10” routine in a California contest last weekend, it seemed like the whole world was there to cheer her on.

A two-minute clip of the UCLA student quickly went viral, capturing a sense of unbridled joy that so many of us seem to be lacking these days.

What stood out was not only the sheer gusto Ohashi brought to her flawless series of flips and tumbles, but also the ecstatic support of her team-mates.  

Here, it was clear to see, was a woman not only smashing it under pressure, but having real fun in the process. 

The upbeat soundtrack - mixing Tina Turner with Jackson 5 and snippets of Earth, Wind & Fire - was the icing on the cake (and gave Ohashi an excuse for some serious swagger). 

Over 50million views later, and internet sensation Ohashi has revealed a few secrets behind that winning energy we could all do with more of in our lives (athlete or no):

Be yourself

Ohashi’s path to fame wasn’t always smooth. The former pro gymnast struggled with a raft of issues as a national junior champion in the States, including injuries and body insecurity fuelled by scrutiny over her weight. 

“I was broken,” she recalled, describing her career in elite gymnastics. “I was told that it was embarrassing how big I’d become… I hated myself.” 

It wasn’t until Ohashi left the world of national gymnastics to become a student at University of California, Los Angeles, in 2015, that this cycle of inner negativity changed.

“It took me finding UCLA and finding a different goal and path to follow to finally find joy and love within the sport again,” she says.

From this gruelling process, Ohashi learnt to follow her gut. 

“Be yourself. It’s really important not to try and be someone else,” the 21-year-old tells the BBC in a new interview

Katelyn Ohashi embraces teammate Christine Peng-Peng at an event in 2018

Surround yourself with positive people

It’s evident from the viral clip that Ohashi is surrounded by a squad of fully supportive team members. Forget rivalry: this is about positive people to shout you on. And Ohashi is clear about the knock-on effect that being in the UCLA gymnastics team has had on her.

“I am in an amazing place and the moment - I have really grown into myself at college and I have an amazing support system around me,” she says.

“Growing up I was often put under a lot of pressure - being an athlete - I’ve been dealing with pressure for a long time.

“But I have realised how many people I now have around to support me now.”

Have fun

Above all, the reason why people have responded so positively to Ohashi’s routine is in the unbridled joy she brings to it.

“My coach Ms Val always reminds me that when people watch me they need to have fun,” the athlete says.

“That’s why I’ve been really touched by people saying things like ‘this is the sort of positivity we need right now.’

“I haven’t been able to feel this kind of happiness in a long time,” she adds. 

“I have found my joy, my voice, myself and my love for the sport. The outcome is not me standing on a podium with medals — it’s me being able to walk out with a smile on my face and truly, being happy with myself and that comes first.”

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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