ESPY Winner Katelyn Ohashi Admits She Tried Having Hate in Her Heart After Internet Trolls Body Shamed Her (Exclusive)

Recent ESPY winner and artistic gymnast, Katelyn Ohashi is nothing but love. The 22-year-old athlete was honored last month at the glitzy ceremony with the Best Play Award after her gymnastic routine with UCLA Athletics went viral overnight, making her a social media sensation among a bevy of fans and supporters, including a long list of notable personalities like, Sen. Kamala Harris, Janet Jackson and Sophia Bush.

In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, the Bellevue, Washington native details how she's managed the overnight fame following that viral routine from this past January, which has raked in more than 51 million views to date.

"Crazy," she described her experience exclusively to PopCulture.com after she took home the top honor. "I feel like, honestly, I was just proud that I was even nominated to go. So winning was ... the cherry on top of everything, and even more important, I was so happy that I got to go up and speak again, and say one of my poems.

The young athlete gave her audience chills in the quick bit of a speech when she not only thanked those who have sacrificed so much to give her everything, but touched on social issues regarding women as well — not to mention, on a special night that highlighted women's equality after the U.S. Women's Soccer Team won the World Cup.

While the overnight fame brought great joy to a very humbled Ohashi, she admits that the special moment of opportunity didn't stop the haters from trying to pull her down.

"I don't take any of it to heart, but it is important to touch upon these things when personally I've tried, like, having hate in my heart and it's so hard for me when it's so easy to just love everyone and appreciate someone's talent," she said after being asked what drove the passion behind her incredible speech.

She adds that "everything is energy," and admits it has blessed her in every aspect of her life. "Luckily I've learned, 'cause I've been in the public eye since I was like 11 or 12 years old," Ohashi said. "And so you learn to take everything with a grain of salt."

Reiterating the value of understanding one's "energy" and the karmic cycles we go through, Ohashi understands in some serendipitous movement that "what you put out there comes back full fold."

"Whenever I read comments — you never know where someone is, what someone's going through in their life. And I always want to reach through the phone and give them a hug and be like 'ah!' ... that person just needs love!" she said.

The UCLA grad did mention that both the good and bad responses were a bit overwhelming for her, but is handling it one day at a time while using her platform to spread love and awareness.

Ohashi recently teamed up with Gatorade as part of their "Beat the Heat" campaign — designed to stress the importance to athletes on staying hydrated, especially during the summer months. She's joined by other pros like Peyton Manning, Serena Williams, April Ross, Bryce Harper, J.J. Watt, Mallory Pugh and more.

"I have been using my platform to ... educate people and bring up social highlights and I feel like this is one of them being an athlete — and just in general," Ohashi shared exclusively to PopCulture.com. "I feel like [people] don't always realize how important it is to stay hydrated — especially in the hot summers, it's very important to beat the heat and stay hydrated."

Ohashi went on to add it "is just another platform to educate people."

Research shows that poor hydration can impair performance and lead to heat illness. Former Giants offensive lineman Mitch Petrus passed away last month following a heat stroke. With the welfare of athletes and consumers at the forefront of concerns, Gatorade is advising athletes take frequent hydration breaks — preferably in a shaded area — and monitor symptoms of heat illness, which can include nausea, headache, fatigue, rapid heart or shortness of breath.

A few tips Gatorade is giving the public to ensure more safety when partaking in physical activity outside is to dress for the weather, don't wait until you're thirsty to hydrate; and if you're not feeling well, make sure to speak up.

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Since Ohashi launched to a new level of the limelight, she hasn't slowed down since. She's currently working on a few books, participating in speaking engagements and enjoying being apart of the Gatorade "Beat the Heat" program.

Photo credit: Getty Images