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Katelyn Ohashi, Who Trained Under Valeri Liukin, Publishes About How Body-shaming Has Severely Affected Her

US gymnast Katelyn Ohashi revealed depth of suffering while being trained as an elite gymnast. Ohashi, who started training at WOGA at...

US gymnast Katelyn Ohashi revealed depth of suffering while being trained as an elite gymnast.

Ohashi, who started training at WOGA at the age of 12, published the first part of her journal which recalls her being traumatically body shamed by everyone including her coaches and herself.

" I experienced these cruel, unwanted body remarks from just about everyone— coaches, fans/gymnastics followers, National team staff, my mother, and even myself," wrote Ohashi. "It started when I was 13, barely weighing 70 pounds. I’ve been told I looked like I swallowed an elephant or a pig, whichever was more fitting that day. I was compared to a bird that was too fat to lift itself off the ground."

"If I “looked” bigger on a given day, I had to run and condition with heavy sweats until it seemed like I was “ready” to start practice."

The American gymnast mentioned that she has even been asked to sign a contract that would prohibit her from training if she did not lose weight.

Ohashi felt pressured to live up to a certain standard and fit the stereotypical body type of a gymnast. Her coach believed that messing up or falling is a result of her being too heavy.

One day, she was home alone and hungry. She found her brother's food, her mom used to hide from her, and ate too much of it.

"I feel disgusting, as if I can already feel the fat growing on my legs. I don’t want to get in trouble tomorrow so I must force myself to do conditioning until my conscience is clean enough to fall asleep."

At some point, Ohashi felt that bulimia could be the only solution that could save her.

" I’m tired of only eating vegetables and I’m tired of running and conditioning every time I “look” like I’m a little heavier."

She recalled a time where she got kicked out several time because she was heavy which followed with being obsessed with weighing herself and not being able to start practice unless she steps on the scale.

"I can’t leave practice without knowing I’ve lost some weight." 

Ohashi did not name Valeri Liukin in her post, however, she was being trained under him during the time she wrote about her struggle with body image in her journal. 

Last June, former American gymnast Vanessa Atler gave an interview to Gymcastic where she revealed that she developed an eating disorder while being coached by Valeri Liukin and to this day she is still messed up because of it.

Atler said that Valeri would weigh his gymnasts three times a day, in the morning, after workouts and at night.

In response to Atler's allegations, Valeri sent a statement to PEOPLE via USA Gymnastics:

“I am sorry Vanessa’s experience wasn’t positive during her time at WOGA. When asked to help during a difficult time for her, my intention as a coach was to help Vanessa achieve her dreams, not make her training situation more difficult"

“My recollection of working with Vanessa is different and includes many positive experiences. Coaching techniques and perspectives have evolved since then, and I have grown as a coach through experience and expanding my knowledge.  Today, I firmly believe an athlete’s focus should be on training smart, with increased education in the areas of balanced nutrition, fitness, healthy lifestyle and communication.  This is the basis for our approach in women’s gymnastics.”

At that time, 2008 Olympic all around champion Nastia Liukin (Liukin's daughter) denied on Twitter the weigh ins in WOGA in response to a tweet that read that she talked about it in her book. She also advised the user not to believe everything they hear. 


Ohashi was a promising elite gymnast who was well known for her difficulty on balance beam. She was a four-time member of USA Gymnastics' Junior National Team, the 2011 junior national champion and the winner of the 2013 American Cup.

She was plagued by injuries during her first year senior and dropped to level 10 two years later. She then joined the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team.

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