Katelyn Ohashi’s magnificent gymnastics routine earned a perfect 10 and concern for her crotch.
The 21-year-old UCLA gymnast helped her team win the Collegiate Challenge last Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., with a flawless floor routine in which she danced across the mat, flew through flips, touched down lightly only to launch airborne again and again, and directly connected with the crowd through a strong streak of sass and a musical, hip-rolling looseness you don’t often find at the elite, super-serious level of gymnastics.
The video of Ohashi’s routine understandably went viral, with many observers celebrating the obvious joy of it but some fixated on her crash-landing into the splits at the end.
“Katelyn Ohashi was all smiles but her routine was painful to watch as she put an unnatural amount of strain on one very sensitive body part,” groaned the Australian news site news.com.au.
Really? There’s buckets of exuberance in that routine, and awe-inspiring precision, all of it underpinned by well-developed quads and abdominals, and beautifully lengthened hamstrings, psoas and all the other long muscles a person needs to do the splits. But strain? From this athlete’s complex, precisely functioning body, and on a specially prepared spring floor? Granted, men may cringe.
Though they’re not the only ones.
Of course, it’s the human condition to feel, vicariously, what others are feeling, but some imaginations are running wild here, and misinterpreting what goes on in the body of an elite athlete. Rest assured that Ohashi has put in mountains of preparation to get to this level of perfection, and she’s, you know, flexible. Her body can do what ours can’t.
Compare Ohashi’s instant recovery from the splits to this one. It’s a clip of the great tap-dancing duo the Nicholas Brothers in the 1943 film “Stormy Weather,” one of the finest dance routines captured on film. Asked how they did it, they’d cheekily reply with perfect comic timing: “Very carefully.”
Ohashi has taken a philosophical approach to her performance, telling NBC, “It shows the fun side of gymnastics, which has mostly been left out.” Bless her, every bit of her, for putting the fun back in.