A year after Katelyn Ohashi, Nia Dennis takes the internet by storm
First Katelyn Ohashi, now Nia Dennis.
The University of California at Los Angeles women's gymnastics team has done it again.
A year after Ohashi, one of the last women to beat Simone Biles in an international all-around competition, became an overnight sensation with her Michael Jackson-themed routine. That video scored more than 90 million views on YouTube, and now Dennis is taking the internet by storm.
The 21-year-old performs a routine set to a medley of songs by Beyoncé that has caught the eye of many, including actress Gabrielle Union. Dennis is currently ranked 23rd in the nation on floor exercise with a season high of 9.975. UCLA is ranked third overall.
"I am overwhelmed with happiness and joy, thank you everyone for such positive messages, it means the world to me to have your support," Dennis wrote on her Twitter account. "This is so surreal. I can’t even believe it! Much love always."
For Ohashi, her popularity came suddenly.
"It was kind of crazy because I didn’t realise it was happening. I was ice skating and my phone kept going off… I went home and I had gone up 50k followers. And I was like, 'This is weird'," she told Olympic Channel last year.
"People were sending me screenshots of famous people tweeting me or re-posting it. At first, it was a shock. I never thought that it would go to that level."
As her routine gained more and more attention, Ohashi decided to use her moment in the sun to speak about issues important to her, women's empowerment, body image and training methods in gymnastics, and to help bring a positive light back to a sport struggling with the fallout from Larry Nassar's abuse.
"I think joy has probably the biggest part to do with it," Ohashi said of her routine's popularity. "And the fact that gymnastics has been in this negative area for a while… you don’t have to get rid of joy in order to have results and the fun."