Childhood & Early Life
Katelyn was born Katelyn Michelle Ohashi, on April 12, 1997, in Seattle, Washington, to an Asian–American father, Richard Ohashi, and his wife, Diana Ohashi, a former high-school gymnast. She grew up with her three older brothers, Ryan, Kyle, and Kalen. Katelyn is of German and Japanese descent.
In 2006, Katelyn, along with her mother and her youngest brother, Kalen, moved to Kansas City, Missouri. They moved to Plano, Texas, in 2009. Katelyn attended the 'Spring Creek Academy' and then graduated from 'Plano Senior High School' in 2015. She majored in general studies from the ‘UCLA’ in 2019.
Katelyn’s gymnastics training at 'Gymnastics East' in Bellevue began when she was just 3 years old. At 9, she moved from the Pacific Northwest to train at the 'Great American Gymnastics Experience' gym in Blue Springs, Missouri, where she was coached by trainer Al Fong. She completed her “elite” training by 14 and then returned to Washington to compete in the 'Pacific Rim Championships' in Everett. However, Katelyn had already made her competitive debut at the age of 12 years.
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Katelyn’s first national-level gymnast competition was the 2009 'Junior Olympic National Championships,' where she earned the first position in floor exercise, second in uneven bars, fourth in the all-around, and seventh in vault. Her first elite meet was at the 'U.S. Classic' in Des Moines, Iowa, in which she held the fourth position in the junior division for floor, fifth in balance beam, and ninth in the all-around category.
Her statistics at 'U.S Classic' made Katelyn eligible for the 'National Championships' in Dallas, where she won the silver for floor exercise, was placed sixth in the beam category, and then ended up at the tenth place in the all-around category. She thus qualified for the junior national team. She then moved to Plano, Texas, to start her training at the ‘WOGA.’
Katelyn’s statistics for 2010 include silver medals in the all-around, bars, beam, and floor categories of the junior division of the 'U.S. Classic' held in Chicago. Following this, in July that year, she won the bars title. She also earned the third place in the all-around and the fourth, the fifth, and the seventh positions in the floor, the beam, and the vault categories, respectively, at the 'National Championships' in Hartford, Connecticut. Katelyn ended the year with the 'Bumbo Cup' held in Pretoria, South Africa, in which she won the junior-division gold medals in the floor, the vault, and the all-around categories and silver medals for bars and beam.
At the 2011 'City of Jesolo Trophy,' Katelyn was part of the US team that won. Individually, she won the gold medal in floor and the silver in uneven bars, securing the third place in the all-around category. Additionally, she was fourth in the beam category and fifth in the vault category.
Katelyn earned the silver in beam at the 'U.S. Classic' in Chicago. She won the junior all-around title, beating defending champion, Kyla Ross, at the 'National Championships.'
Katelyn’s senior division career statistics include a victory at the 2013 'American Cup.' However, she underwent a major shoulder surgery soon after, due to which she could not compete in any competition for the rest of the year.
The surgery took a major toll on Katelyn’s mental health. She expressed her uncertainty of being able to continue at the international “elite” level in an interview at the 2014 'WOGA Classic.' To worsen her condition, Katelyn again suffered from two torn shoulders and a spine surgery later that year. This kept her from competing until 2015.
In 2015, Katelyn resumed her career but was dropped from “elite” competition to level 10. She competed at the 2015 'Pikes Peak Cup' in Colorado Springs and secured the second place in the vault event final. Katelyn’s subsequent performances were not too impressive, as she earned positions below 10 in the overall category.
Katelyn’s collegiate began with the 'UCLA Bruins' gymnastics team for the 2015–2016 season. She earned the 'Pac-12 Freshman of the Week' title four times. Unfortunately, Katelyn met with an accident again while competing against the 'Arizona Wildcats.' The cap of her balance beam fell off, and she landed on her neck. Medical reports suggested a sternal fracture, and Katelyn was out for four weeks.
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Katelyn made a comeback the following season, finishing the regular season at the first spot in balance beam, along with two perfect 10s. Her performance improved in the 2018 season, as she earned three perfect 10s in floor, the first such feat of her career. Additionally, she set career-high scores in uneven bars, vault, and all-around and was named the 'PAC 12' specialist of the year.
At the 2018 'Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships,' Katelyn was given the collegiate title in the floor division for her Michael Jackson-themed performance. The performance went viral on 'YouTube' and earned millions of views. Katelyn’s mid-routine moonwalk and the iconic “thriller handclap” broke the internet at the time.
Her overnight fame for the Michael Jackson-themed performance was followed by a floor title and her first two national championship victories. At the 2019 'Collegiate Challenge,' she performed an R&B and pop medley that earned her perfect 10s. Like the previous performance, this one, too, was widely shared on social media.
Katelyn’s popular medley routine featured a few throwback songs, including Michael Jackson’s 'The Way You Make Me Feel,' Tina Turner’s 'Proud Mary,' 'Earth, Wind & Fire's 'September,' and the 'Jackson 5′s' 'I Want You Back.’ The performance that thrilled the audience was indeed a mammoth task for Katelyn. She executed the routine a second time after it debuted at a meet against Nebraska. In an interview to 'Daily Bruin,' ‘UCLA’ women’s gymnastics head coach Valorie Kondos Field congratulated and appreciated Katelyn’s efforts to master the ridiculously hard floor routine.
Body Image Issues
Despite having so many remarkable scores under her belt, Katelyn became a victim of body-shaming when her looks and body shape overshadowed her talent and achievements. Katelyn, along with a friend named Maria Caire, maintains a 'Wordpress' blog titled 'Behind the Madness.' They both use the platform to spread a word against "the various body-image issues athletes endure.”
The site has Katelyn sharing her views about her struggles related to managing a rare skin disease and ulcerative colitis. She once revealed that she had often been ridiculed for not wearing makeup. Katelyn also highlighted the shallowness of some of the judges, for whom the looks and the attire of a contestant held more importance than his/her performance.
Katelyn has faced a lot of hate for her skin condition, granuloma annulare, which causes dark spots all over the body. Although she is not embarrassed about it, the constant criticism causes her to stress over it. In a 2017 post titled 'Dear No One, This is For Me,’ Katelyn wrote against the pressure to look a certain way that society and media put on women athletes.