Born in Africa, Okino moved to the United States with her family and began gymnastics at the relatively late age of 9. By 1988, only four years later, she had progressed to the elite level, placing 17th at that year's junior U.S. National Championships. In 1990 Okino moved to Houston to train with Marta and Béla Károlyi. She placed second in the all-around and won the balance beam title at the 1990 U.S. Nationals; and represented the United States at several major international meets, including the Goodwill Games, where she won a silver medal with the American team and finished fourth in the all-around and uneven bars finals. Okino was part of the U.S. team for the 1991 World Gymnastics Championships, winning a silver medal in team finals and a bronze on the balance beam. She also won the 1991 American Cup.