Why best friends Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles are the joy of the Olympics
28th Jul 2021
When it comes to women supporting women in sport, you don't get better than gymnasts Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles.
When it comes to the Olympic Games, competition is at the fore. Teams are there to support each other but it would be naive to think that each athlete didn’t have their own hopes when it comes to taking gold for their respective country.
We’ve seen first-hand the effects such insurmountable pressure can have on some, a case in point being Simone Biles who stepped out of competition to put her mental health first.
Biles’ friend Jordan Chiles, a 20-year-old Oregon-born gymnast is competing in her first Games and is part of the four-person artistic gymnastics team – and it was she who stepped in when Biles could not continue.
It was at Biles’ insistence that her Tokyo dreams became her reality. Chiles grew up in Vancouver, the youngest of five children. By age 11, she was competing at the elite level — for years the only such gymnast in Washington state. In 2014, she won the U.S. Classic at the junior level.
By 2018, Chiles was weary of the sport. She’d been passed over for international meets and felt stuck. “I didn’t think the sport wanted me anymore,” Chiles recalled to the New York Times last month.
Then Simone Biles had an idea: Chiles should move to Texas and train alongside Biles at the gym she had started there. At Biles’ gym, World Champions Centre, she would be coached by Cecile and Laurent Landi, renowned for their skill as coaches
And so, Chiles finished high school and took Biles up on her offer, moving her life and training to Spring, Texas — and the two became like sisters and the best of friends.
Chiles’ home life hasn’t been the steadiest; her mother Gina Chiles will start a one-year and one-day prison sentence as the women’s team is expected to compete in the Olympics final for wire fraud, so no doubt having such support makes all the difference in such a pressurised environment.
“Having her by my side 24/7 and giving me encouraging words every day definitely helped, and it was very motivational,” Chiles said, just hours after her third-place finish at the Olympic Trials earned her a spot on the Tokyo-bound U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. “Very happy to have someone like her.”
The team may have taken silver – not the gold they would have wanted – but the story behind the scenes of two teammates going out on a limb for the other is the headlines we should be seeing more of.
“This medal is definitely for her,” Chiles said. “If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here where we are right now. We wouldn’t be a silver medalist because of who she is as a person.”
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