In January, UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi charmed the internet with a fiercely spunky, smiley, physics-defying floor routine at a meet that scored her a perfect 10 — and more than 40 million views. A gymnast since age three, Ohashi quickly climbed the elite ranks. She beat Simone Biles to win the 2013 American Cup and was on track to make the Olympic team. But she struggled with an eating disorder and that year learned she’d fractured her back, a potential career-ender.
“It was a relief,” she says. “Then, once I figured out I didn’t have anything else I knew how to do, it was devastating.” After a yearlong break, Ohashi rediscovered her love for the sport at the collegiate level; she was the NCAA’s top-ranked gymnast in floor exercise last season. “The joy won’t always be there,” says Ohashi, who’ll graduate this spring with a gender-studies degree. “But the dedication you learn from sticking to it is a reward.”