UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, who went viral in January after scoring a perfect 10 on a routine that made international headlines, has completed the final performance of her college career.
The 22-year-old’s floor routine at the 2019 Collegiate Challenge has been watched 43 million times on Twitter, not to mention YouTube.
She’s since made some slight changes to the choreography, including the removal of Michael Jackson’s music and dance moves, and performed the routine one final time on Saturday at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics National Championship.
And while she couldn’t recreate the perfect 10, she came pretty damn close with a 9.95.
‘Taken ownership of myself’
Ohashi is due to graduate with a degree in gender studies in June, and despite previously beating multiple Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles, she has no desire to keep competing.
Ohashi recently wrote a poem called “Fame” that ends “Not everyone’s destiny is going to be the same. Set your own goals and make your own fame.”
And she’s certainly lived up to her own words with a trio of viral floor routines that have given her an audience outside the world of gymnastics and a platform to speak out on issues of empowerment.
Ohashi is ranked first nationally in floor exercise after recording a perfect 10.0 in six meets. She’s just the fourth gymnast in NCAA history to have a 10.0 national qualifying score on any event.
For as much attention as Ohashi gets on floor exercise, she is also ranked second nationally on the balance beam.
“I think I finally have really taken ownership of myself and me as a gymnast,” Ohashi said.
“It just reminds you that timing is everything. I wouldn’t have been ready for all of this last year.
“I think this being my last year has set me up for a lot of the things I want to do in my future. I’ve always wanted to have a platform like this. So I think it’s really amazing.”
She is using that platform to try to spread a message of empowerment for women and to stand with survivors of abuse.
It’s the theme of her new routine, a reworking of the one that earned her a perfect 10.0 in five of 10 meets and got more than 117 million views on social media, leading to appearances on national morning shows and acclaim from musicians, actors, athletes and politicians.
The routine opens with music from Tina Turner, retains a section from Janet Jackson, and features music and dance moves from Beyonce.
The first one featured a medley of songs that also included Earth Wind & Fire, the Jackson 5, and music and dance moves from Michael Jackson.
“That’s kind of why we decided to, you know, go through with all the women musicians and who runs the world? Girls. Like, duh, no brainer,” she said.
“I feel like it is important to have that message in a platform because I’m on a team with survivors and my floor coach is a survivor herself.”
The floor coach, Jordyn Wieber, was one of five athletes on the 2012 team who testified they were abused by Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics who is in prison for sexually assaulting patients.
Ohashi always planned to have two different routines this season. She introduced the new one at the Pac-12 Championships. She earned a 10.0 at the Pac-12 meet and followed that with a 9.95 at the NCAA regional meet.
The change also coincided with the release of the “Leaving Neverland” documentary about Michael Jackson.
Ohashi said removing Michael Jackson’s dance moves and music was a conscious decision because, “It’s about joy and if it makes one person feel uncomfortable then that’s never been my goal.”
Wieber said it wasn’t about whether they wanted to support Jackson’s music or not, but more about giving respect to all survivors.
“Katelyn has built this platform for herself where she reaches so many people not just in the gymnastics world but in the entire world. I’m just really excited that she decided to do that,” Wieber said.
Don't be sad that this is @katelyn_ohashi's last collegiate routine– she doesn't want that.
Instead, get up and dance along with joy as we watch the @uclagymnastics legend one final time as a Bruin.
Thanks for all the memories. 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/uV5JpR6Gvj
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 21, 2019
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) April 21, 2019
We just watched @katelyn_ohashi's last routine as a Bruin. 😢
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 21, 2019
— UCLA Gymnastics (@uclagymnastics) April 21, 2019
Ohashi has been outspoken about issues that matter to her.
She has used her poetry to shed light on dealing with fame, body image and anti-bullying.
Her love of writing came from years of being in elite gymnastics where the only way to express her thoughts was to write in journals.
She has recently discussed body shaming issues on a blog she started with a friend called “Behind the Madness.”