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This gymnast's 'perfect 10' floor routine went viral — how she found joy after the sport left her 'broken'

UCLA teammates congratulate Katelyn Ohashi on her performance during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championship is held at Chaifetz Arena on April 15, 2017 in St Louis, Missouri.
Photo by Mark Buckner/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
UCLA teammates congratulate Katelyn Ohashi on her performance during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championship is held at Chaifetz Arena on April 15, 2017 in St Louis, Missouri.

This weekend, college gymnast Katelyn Ohashi became an Internet star when a video of her joyful, high-energy floor routine from a recent competition went viral.

While she earned a perfect score, that joy was the real win for Ohashi who has struggled with her passion for the sport.

On Twitter, UCLA gymnastics shared a video of the 21-year-old's impressive routine from Under Armour's 2019 Collegiate Challenge last weekend. As of this writing, the tweet was liked by approximately 512,000 people and viewed more than 25 million times.

The routine was dubbed "ridiculously hard" by her coach and many who saw her performance thought it inspiring.

Not long ago, however, this former Olympic hopeful who competed alongside big names such as Simone Biles had grown tired of the grueling sport's constant pressure.

At the time, her body was battered by injury. According to a video about Ohashi by media site The Players Tribune, Ohashi had suffered a fractured back and two torn shoulders.

She said, "I was compared to a bird that couldn't fly."

She decided to retire from elite competition in 2015 to pursue the sport at the collegiate level.

The decision was difficult for Ohashi, she explained in the video. "At the time, no one really knew what I was going through. I couldn't accept myself. Gymnastics was my worth."

Once at UCLA, however, Ohashi was able to reclaim the passion she felt for the sport.

Ohashi said she learned to accept a different outcome from her training. Instead of dreaming of a podium and medals, she'd work toward her own satisfaction.

It took "having a goal and a different path to follow," to finally find joy in the sport, she explained in the video.

Success for Ohashi now is "being able to walk out with a smile on my face and truly being happy with myself."

During her viral routine, Ohashi saw her joy reflected in the faces of the crowd and her team, a team who even moved with her as she performed her choreography.

Now that her full story has reached a wider audience, she's inspiring audiences all over again, as those on social media applaud her comeback and her new approach to success.

As one commenter on Twitter explained, the gymnast shows there's an alternative to "the worldview that life is only punitive." Ohashi proves "that true success and joy doesn't come by cranking out constant achievement simply so you don't feel like a failure."

Ohashi agrees. "I found my joy, my voice and my love for the sport."

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