'Perfect 10' Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi Quits Sport Over 'Abusive' Culture
Some things are a lot more important than winning,
Actually, that sounds like a tagline to a movie. But you know what? It's true. Some things really are more important than winning.
Like doing the thing you're best at with pure joy, before moving on to something else when the time is right.
This enlightened station on the train ride of life is where American gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, 22, has disembarked, as she leaves gymnastics behind and starts whatever's next.
Ohashi, you'll recall, is the gymnast who stunned the world with a perfect 10 in a floor routine earlier this year.
That perfect score -- the fourth of her career -- was notable not just for its gymnastic transcendence, but for its joyousness and upbeat dance moves. [You can watch it in the video above.]
That same effervescent attitude was on show over the Easter weekend, in the final performance of Ohashi's collegiate career -- and indeed of her gymnastic career -- for which she scored an almost-perfect 9.95.
But why is she quitting?
In short, she's had enough. Though she once beat four-time Rio Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles in competition, this gymnast will not try for a place in the US team at the Tokyo Olympics.
Late last year, Ohashi published a moving video on American sports site The Players' Tribune, which explained how she'd overcome severe injuries, including a broken back, just to compete.
But worse than that, she had to fight issues with food and body image. In one scene in her video, she tells how she had to do hours of exercise after eating a normal evening meal, just so she could feel good about herself when she went to bed at night.
It wasn't healthy for her body or soul. As she told Marie Claire in an article that came out this weekend: "I’ve said before that gymnastics is abusive, but now I know it’s not the sport that’s abusive -- it’s the culture that was created and accepted and normalised."
Ohashi -- thanks in part to the support of Valorie Kondos-Field, the coach with whom she formed a special bond -- has done more than just leave that culture behind her. She has already helped changed it, and plans to keep doing so in the future.
She said that she plans in future to pursue activism around issues like body image, mental health and domestic violence.
But before all that, she gave us one last joyous performance. And it really was quite the show.
For support around eating disorders and body image, contact the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.