Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi made big sacrifices for a big goal

  • By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
  • Friday, March 16, 2012 8:11am
  • SportsSports
USA’s Katelyn Ohashi jumps above the beam March 16, 2012, during the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships Women’s Finals at Xfinity Arena in Everett. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald)

USA’s Katelyn Ohashi jumps above the beam March 16, 2012, during the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships Women’s Finals at Xfinity Arena in Everett. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald)

EVERETT — Six years ago, Diana and Richard Ohashi of Newcastle faced a big family dilemma.

One that required a big family decision.

Their daughter, 9-year-old Katelyn, was a very promising gymnast. She was developing nicely at her Seattle-area club, but to become an elite international gymnast she needed to train with some of the nation’s most knowledgeable and experienced coaches.

It meant moving out of state. And not just Katelyn, but others in the Ohashi family as well.

“It was,” Diana Ohashi said, “a very tough call.”

After much discussion, Diana Ohashi moved in 2006 with Katelyn and the youngest of her three sons, Kalen, to the Kansas City, Mo., area, where Katelyn worked with gymnastics coach Al Fong, himself a Seattle native. Three years later they moved again, this time to train with premier coach Valeri Liukin — a former Olympic gold medalist from the Soviet Union and the father of 2008 American Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin — at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano, Texas.

Remaining at their Eastside home was Richard Ohashi, and the couple’s middle son, who was entering his senior year of high school in 2006. The oldest son was already out of the house.

Diana Ohashi and her two kids live today in a Plano apartment. Katelyn, now a 14-year-old ninth-grader, studies at the Spring Creek Academy in Plano, a special school for students who need flexible academic schedules. She also practices gymnastics six days a week for up to seven hours a day.

Katelyn Ohashi of the USA gymnastic team tapes her wrists March 12, 2012, during a Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships practice session at Xfinity Arena in Everett. (Michael O’Leary/The Herald)

Katelyn Ohashi of the USA gymnastic team tapes her wrists March 12, 2012, during a Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships practice session at Xfinity Arena in Everett. (Michael O’Leary/The Herald)

The divided family reunites when it can, and they all keep in touch with frequent phone calls and Skype Internet conversations.

“It was definitely hard at first because my dad and two brothers were still here,” said Katelyn Ohashi, who will be competing in the junior division at this weekend’s Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at Comcast Arena. “But it’s better now. They come and visit sometimes.”

Yet even now “it’s hard at times,” she said. “But I think it’s worth it. And I’m hoping it’ll pay off.”

Gymnastically speaking, it’s already paying off. In a sport where the world’s top gymnasts are typically in their late teens or early 20s, Ohashi is one of America’s most exceptional young gymnasts. At the 2011 national championships, Ohashi placed first in all-around, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise in the junior division. Her only non-winning performance was a fourth place in vault.

Afterward, Valeri Liukin told International Gymnast Magazine, “For Katelyn, the sky’s the limit. Nothing less. I’m not exaggerating one single bit. Under very careful coaching, there is nothing impossible for that kid.”

Katelyn Ohashi is a 4-foot-9, 80-pound pixie of a girl, but she is a dynamo on the gymnastics floor. She might already be good enough to make the five-woman United States team for this summer’s Olympic Games in London, but cannot because of a rule that requires Olympic gymnasts to be 16 in the year of the Games.

Ohashi will turn 16 in April 2013, meaning she missed the cut-off by a little over four months.

So she will continue to train with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro as her Olympic goal, and her family will continue their sacrifices on her behalf.

“Some people might think this is really odd, but you’d be surprised,” said Diana Ohashi, a former high school gymnast who grew up in Issaquah. “I know of several parents who’ve done this same thing.”

There are days, she admitted, when she wonders if the current cost is worth the potential reward.

“But I really like Texas,” she said. “I like the weather and I like the people, so that helps. … It’s harder for a kid, but I think (Katelyn) is happy and (Kalen) likes it, too.”

Her daughter has already traveled worldwide, “and we’re lucky that she gets to do stuff like that,” added Diana Ohashi, who attends cosmetology school in Plano. “It’s like I tell her, some people never figure out what they’re good at. But she really is talented. And if I didn’t believe this was (the right thing) for her, I never would’ve done it.

“It’s a hard road,” she said, “but it’s been an amazing journey.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lake Stevens’ Jaxson Lewis (8) runs with the ball during a Class 4A state semifinal game between Lake Stevens and Kamiakan at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. Lake Stevens won, 48-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Another state title well within reach for surging Lake Stevens

The Vikings head into Saturday’s championship clash riding a string of dominant performances.

Graham-Kapowsin’s Daveon Superales keeps the ball on a quarterback run during the 4A semifinal against Lake Stevens on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
4A state championship capsule: Lake Stevens vs. Graham-Kapowsin

A by-the-numbers look at Saturday’s state title game, plus game picks from our experts and readers.

X
Prep roundup for Thursday, Nov. 30

Prep results for Thursday, Nov. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3) catches a pass for a first down as Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (33) defends in the first half of Thursday’s game in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Grading the Seahawks in their 41-35 loss to the Cowboys

Seattle gives a game effort on the road against a strong Dallas team, but falters at the end.

Kamiak’s Bella Hasan finishes at the rim with a driving layup against Stanwood on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, at Stanwood High School in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: Hasan, Anderson power Kamiak girls past Stanwood

The duo combine for 50 points in a 71-49 victory of the Knights.

Granite Falls senior James Porter braces for a hit after making a catch against Kings on Friday, Oct. 19, 2023, at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Locals named to All-Emerald Sound Conference teams

Student-athletes honored from Granite Falls, King’s and Sultan.

Washington safety Makell Esteen (24) celebrates making an interception against Washington State with cornerback Jabbar Muhammad (1) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
UW, Oregon meet with Pac-12 title, potential CFP spot on the line

The final season of the Pac-12 is set to close with a massive rivalry clash.

X
Prep roundup for Wednesday, Nov. 29

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Nov. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (72) takes his stance during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Seahawks O-line could stabilize with possible return of Lucas

The Archbishop Murphy product hasn’t played since Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Montana State guard RaeQuan Battle celebrates after scoring against Kansas State during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Community roundup: MP grad Battle ‘devastated’ by NCAA ruling

Plus, Jadyn Edwards joins New Mexico’s Hall of Honor, and Daniel Arias is back with the NFL’s Cardinals

X
Prep roundup for Tuesday, Nov. 28

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Nov. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Jackson’s Trey Hawkins drives to the hoop during the game against Arlington on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Jackson boys top Arlington in season opener

Drew Pepin, Ryan Mcferran and Trey Hawkins key the win for the Timberwolves.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.