There was a moment when Jordan Chiles thought about walking away from gymnastics – and now, she’s competing at the Tokyo Olympics. Get to know this amazing athlete.
The sports world has turned its eyes to Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympics, and one competition everyone will be watching closely is women’s gymnastics. Team USA looks to continue its dominance, with Simone Biles aiming to make history – again. This time around, she’s joined by some new faces: Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner, who qualified as individual athletes; and Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum, and Jordan Chiles. However, Jordan, 20, almost gave up on her dream of Olympic gold before Simone, 24, talked her out of hanging up her leotard. As the games kick-off, here’s what you need to know about Jordan while you root on Team USA.
Jordan Chiles Is An American Gymnast.
Born Jordan Lucella Elizabeth Chiles in Tualatin, Oregon, Jordan grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She lists Vancouver, Washington as her home, but has been living in Spring, Texas, since 2019 to train at the World Champions Centre Gym with coaches Coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi — the same coaching staff that works with Simone Biles. “My parents could not keep me from cartwheeling down the aisle of any open space or walking on my hands instead of my feet,” Jordan says on her official USA Gymnastics profile. “People kept asking if I was in gymnastics. I had a lot of energy! So they put me in the gym.”
She Is Named After Michael Jordan – Really.
Jordan seemed destined to defy the laws of gravity from birth because her mother named her after an athlete who seemed to fly whenever he stepped on the basketball court: Michael Jordan. Jordan – the gymnast – told KOIN 6 in 2018 that her name comes from “His Airness.” “She is literally in love with sports,” Chiles told the news station. Jordan also said she began her sports career on the softball field but found love for gymnastics early on. “It’s fun to like be in the air like if you think about it, it’s like ‘woah, you’re really high off the ground, and you still land on your feet,’” she said.
Jordan Almost Quit Gymnastics…
“I didn’t think the sport wanted me anymore,” Jordan told The New York Times. “So I went in the opposite direction.”
In 2017, in her second senior competition, Jordan won the silver in the all-around at the national championships. But, she didn’t make the U.S. team that competed at the world championships in Montreal. Jordan left her coach because she thought their methods were overbearing. After years of a strict diet – sometimes, she would only consume soup – she lived like a normal person: she ate candy, drank Starbucks, had sleepovers with friends, and socialized without worrying about the impact on her performance. At the 2018 nationals, she finished 11th in the all-around and figured her time was done.
“I guess this sport is coming to an end for me because things just aren’t working out for me at all whatsoever,” Chiles told the NYT. “I just wanted to finish high school and go off to college. But then I had a talk with Simone.”
…Until Simone Stepped In.
After Jordan’s setbacks in 2018, Simone suggested Jordan train with the Landis. Though they were tough and meticulous, the coaches were adamant that gymnasts lead balanced and healthy social lives (to help deal with the pressure of the sport.) After Jordan finished high school – she went to prom in a red sequined mermaid dress – she moved to Texas.
“I discovered that gymnastics doesn’t always have to be about strictness and being so hard on yourself and having so much doubt,” she said. “I actually realized this when I saw Simone compete. She looks like she’s having fun out there, laughing and giggling, and doesn’t look stressed or tired. I was like, ‘You know, I’m going to try that one of these days and see how it turns out.’”
Jordan Has The Drip.
The Olympics being postponed a year was a blessing in disguise for Jordan. She underwent surgery on her right wrist in November 2019, and she was given more time to heal. She also was given more time to get back into shape.
It also allowed Jordan to set up a company called Melanin Drip Clothing, a streetwear line that celebrates the Black experience. It boasts hoodies with slogans like “Black Royalty,” “Boujee,” and “Beautiful, Black & Brilliant.”