Viral UCLA Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi Does Handstand (in Heels!) on ESPYS Red Carpet
The 22-year-old athlete can do anything
Katelyn Ohashi sure did stand out on the 2019 ESPY Awards red carpet on Wednesday.
The former University of California Los Angeles gymnast — who made waves on the internet in January when footage of her perfect 10-scoring floor routine went viral — showed off her flexibility for photographers at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, posing while in an epic handstand.
Though she was upside down, Ohashi, 22, didn’t take off her sparkly strappy sandals.
She wore a cap-sleeve sheer lace jumpsuit with a high-waisted white shorts and a matching tube top layered underneath. The summer look was accessorized with silver bracelets and hoop earrings.
Ohashi graduated from UCLA in June with a degree in gender studies.
In January, she told PEOPLE that she didn’t expect the viral fame that came her way after her impressive floor routine, which was soundtracked by upbeat music like Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”
“I would have never guessed I have like senators reposting me,” she said, referencing the likes of now-Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. “It’s just crazy and honoring.”
It was especially shocking since nearly six years ago, Ohashi underwent double shoulder surgery, leaving her competitive future in the sport in jeopardy. Though she was a rising star at that time — even beating Simone Biles at the 2013 American Cup — Ohashi realized that the level of intensity required for elite gymnastics was not making her happy.
“When I got back home, although it was so exciting that I had won, I couldn’t even smile about it,” she recalled, explaining that her victory was vastly overshadowed by her pain. “I got home and I was just in tears. And my mom realized something was wrong.”
“It was like losing myself basically, because it was like, that was the only thing I knew how to do,” she added. “So after time went by, and I was getting x-ray after x-ray and MRI after MRI, it was kind of like my body couldn’t uphold the training that I was forced to do.”
Now, the talented athlete is facing down another challenge: life after college.
Her dream? A turn on Dancing with the Stars — but beyond that, she’s hoping to pursue “a lot of projects that have to do with writing and photography.”
And her coach knows she’s bound for greatness.
Said Valorie Kondos Field, the celebrated former coach of the women’s gymnastics team at UCLA: “What I’m so proud of is, it’s not just about Katelyn Ohashi, this talented joyful athlete, but I think what comes through is she has such depth as a person outside of the gym. Her intention and attention goes to really serious social issues like body-shaming issues, abuse issues and homelessness. And that is what I am most proud of with her: she is not a two-dimensional athlete — she’s a three-dimensional human.”
The 2019 ESPYS, presented by Capital One and hosted by Tracy Morgan, air Thursday (at 8 p.m. EST) on ABC.