Watch: this spectacular gymnastics performance by UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi is a perfect 10

I’ll watch this over football, golf or cycling any day.


All the more outstanding as she is 21 with a woman’s body rather than 13 with a little girl’s.

Is she, though? I watched this routine with my little girl, who is eight. Then we looked up Katelyn Ohashi’s height. Per UCLA, she’s 4’10", which is just a few inches taller than my little girl. Her former teammate, Simone Biles, is only 4’8". They are both the size of children.

It’s true Ms. Ohashi has a little more weight on her thighs than most gymnasts. She lived through hell for years because of that tendency, being forced to run laps or being kicked out of training if she gained weight. She starved herself for years, and became bulimic. At 13, she weighed less than my 8 year old. It’s hard to look at a little girl like mine and imagine that a girl five years older than her could be punished for weighing what she does now.

It’s a cruel sport.


Women are women regardless of their height.


But there is a concern that girls who go into gymnastics do not go through a normal puberty. It is quite possible that both Biles and Ohashi would have been over 5’ tall if they hadn’t been in gymnastics. That’s quite a price to pay for a sport you can only do for a relatively short time while young.


That makes me sad, considering that one of the things that struck me while watching the video is how fit she looked.

Um, no. I’m 4’11". I’m an adult, hence I’m the size of an adult. Peter Dinklage is 4’5"… also an adult, so the size of an adult. Plenty of people are short, that doesn’t mean we’re not adult-sized for our height. Being an adult is a biological status, not a size status.


That is what young people are up to these days, yes. But don’t mistake them–they respect the training, the effort, the performance of the athletic feats as well. They simply don’t think it needs to be stuffy, reserved, or “dignified” in the antiquated sense of the 20th century. It’s funny, I’m not all that old really, but I remember being in high school, and the grumpy comments some adults made at graduation ceremonies where families would cheer and get loud for their children crossing the stage. As if exuberance were somehow a stain upon accomplishment. Maybe that’s not what you meant–but it’s how it came across.

No, I did not mean any of that. As a past practitioner (very amateur, very limited) I very much respect what goes into achieving such a gymnastic performance.

I just tend rather more to the @winkybber view of conventional sport.

Yes, there are edge cases as someone else pointed out above, but by and large quantitative assessment is where it should be at. Having to ‘dance’ (bump and grind) and pout and smile, in a way some (my granny, for example) might characterise as provocative at times, in order to improve your ‘score’ in a competitive sport, because you are a woman (as noted above, men do not even have music!) is what I find hard to accept. That part of a performance is not gymnastics as far as I am concerned. It has nothing to do with whether or not I approve of exuberance. :wink:

For some perspective on how rare a perfect score is, consider what’s involved in judging.
Every routine consists of multiple elements or skills that fall within a difficulty level (A,B,C, D and E). While no particular skill is mandatory per se, every routine needs a combination of skills to obtain the maximum point value (10.0 at this level).

Some gymnasts prefer combinations of relatively easier skills that they can execute well (which is what Katelyn did here) instead of attempting very difficult skills that have a higher point value but are hard to land. Both are valid approaches and most gymnasts routines contain a combination of difficult & easy skills. They also practice the same routine for years and years with little variation. Not unusual for a single skill move to take hundreds or even thousands of hours of practice to master.

Judging a routine is substractive, which means you start with the maximum point value for the routine then deduct points for mistakes. Minor deductions are usually .10 or .30 and major mistakes like a fall can deduct a full point or more. Not only does Katelyn pull off a perfect routine with sufficient difficulty for a 10.0, it’s actually a consensus of 3 judges who saw a flawless routine from 3 different vantage points. That’s why it’s very rare to see a perfect score even for lower difficulty routines.

(Edit: the scoring system was revised in 2006. My experience with judging was at the junior level back in the early 90’s so some of my info may be out of date.)

That’s a very good point. Katelyn has been competing for a long time and you can see how much her routine has changed from when she was younger on the national team versus now as she competes just for UCLA. She’s always been exceptional at floor but you can tell her routine has been significantly simplified in terms of difficulty.

Dance moves are not scored but are required only in so much as they form as connecting elements between skills and serve to provide an overall “flow” of a routine. They are usually not very elaborate at the elite levels as more focus is put on the skills execution vs. showmanship. Also the routines are longer in the Olympics with floor exercise requiring up to 4 tumbling passes as opposed to 3 at college level and below.

Also the butt bounce and split bounce moves that are flashy for the audience are actually very simple and possible because the floor itself is very springy and acts like a trampoline. Those are also not scored skills.

Gymnastics is a sport of technique. Strength and flexibility are important for sure but not everything.

Ask any gymnast what the hardest apparatus is and 99% will say pommel horse for men and balance beam for women. They don’t look that difficult from a layperson perspective but that’s the point. Both require exceptional body control and balance compared to the other equipment and any mistake is amplified significantly. They are deceptively difficult and really good routines make it look easy due to good technique.


Not having watched gymnastics at the college level, those moves seemed much sexier than the preteen Olympic girls with hair in buns Tongue hanging out and curls flailing about. Nothing wrong with that but it was surprising.

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