Chiles family rejoices in Jordan’s gymnastics journey to the Olympics
Those who watched on television saw Jordan Chiles crying tears of joy just seconds after her final routine Sunday night at the United States Olympic Team Gymnastics Trials.
Her family members who were there in St. Louis had a different perspective.
“She was crying before (the routine) which made us all lose it,” said Jordan’s mom, Gina Chiles.
For a nanosecond, the family wondered if Jordan was going to be able to regain her composure, to nail the floor exercise.
Oh, but this was Jordan’s year. This was Jordan’s night. This was Jordan’s moment.
“She ends in her pose on the ground. She stayed down a little longer than she normally does. She just took in that moment,” Gina Chiles said. “We all just lost it. We knew at that point, no matter what happened, Jordan had won. Not the meet. But Jordan had won her battle for her dream.”
It was easy to spot the Chiles family on television. There was Gina and Timothy Chiles, watching their daughter, along with several other family members and friends. They were all wearing those red T-shirts, with Team Chick on the front and a quote from Jordan on the back: Believe in the power of your dreams.
Jordan Chiles, of Vancouver, Washington, had made the United States Olympic Team. A Prairie High School graduate. A champion who got her start at Naydenov Gym in Vancouver. Yes, that Jordan Chiles is going to Tokyo later this month.
This week, Clark County Today talked to Gina Chiles about the family’s experience in St. Louis for the trials, and the family’s journey to Texas, to help Jordan realize her dream.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Gina said via phone call from Spring, Texas, right around the corner from the WCC, World Champions Centre, the training facility that Chiles came to just after graduating from Prairie High School in 2019.
A few years ago, Jordan was not sure about her future in gymnastics. For every championship moment on television, on the world stage, there are countless doubts, aches, injuries, and internal struggles.
“She wanted to give up and quit,” Gina said. “She didn’t think gymnastics wanted her anymore.”
By the spring of 2019, though, she had already decided she would go for Olympic glory. But she also wanted a fresh start. She asked her parents if, after graduating from Prairie, she could move to Texas to train at the WCC, the gym owned by the family of world champion Simone Biles.
“She doesn’t ever ask for anything in regard to gymnastics,” Gina said. “This is something she asked. ‘If you are 100 percent sure, we’ll do whatever we can to support it.’ … Here I am, in Texas.”
Gina moved to Texas, while Timothy stayed in Vancouver, but visiting Texas often.
“We try not to go longer than three weeks. I love that man. He loves me. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it,” Gina said. “Jordan is the baby of five kids. Our kids are grown, they’re older, living their lives. They 100 percent support Jordan.”
It was supposed to be just for a year. The pandemic changed everything. No 2020 Games in 2020. Pushed back to 2021. Jordan had another decision to make. She kept going. Her family kept backing her.
And on Sunday night, Team Chiles was rewarded with a selection to Team USA.
The athletic ability has always been there. Jordan Chiles has been one of the best in the country in her age bracket just about all of her life. But it takes so much more than skill in this sport.
“Jordan has found her happy place, her joy, and love of the sport,” Gina said. “She knows she is doing this for her. Before, she was doing it for everybody else. Over the last two years, she has found her joy and her happy.
“She’s always been gifted. Her gymnastics has been strong. Now you see what happens when somebody loves what they’re doing.”
A lot of that joy was found in Texas, as Jordan trained at the WCC with Biles.The gymnastics world knows Biles as the greatest of all time. Jordan knows her as a close friend.
Biles was one of the first to hug Jordan right after the floor exercise on Sunday night. It wasn’t official, but it was pretty much a done deal.
“I’m so proud of you,” Biles told Jordan. “You did it.”
That was not a made-for-TV moment. That was two close friends celebrating each other.
“They call each other sisters. It is evident,” Gina said. “Simone has been extremely instrumental in Jordan’s happy place. The greatest thing she has offered her is friendship. That’s a beautiful thing. She is a genuine person.”
Simone Biles also is not perfect. Earlier on Sunday, she fell off the balance beam. It stunned everyone in the dome, Gina said.
That small slip by the world’s best shows just how difficult this sport is, and it also shines a little brighter light on the incredible season that Jordan is having in 2021.
Going into the floor exercise Sunday, Jordan Chiles was a perfect 23 of 23 for her routines. (That 23 number is significant. She was named after Michael Jordan.) No, not perfect scores. But she had nailed every routine in her previous five meets and the first three events in the trials. She had not fallen off the beam or stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise. She hit on the vault, every time, as well as the uneven bars.
Then, after that final performance on the floor, she made it 24 out of 24.
USA Gymnastics described Chiles as the 2021 breakout star of the team in its press release announcing the Olympic team.
In fact, because of her 20-for-20 performance leading up to the trials, there was talk that Chiles was a virtual lock to make the team, regardless of how she performed at the trials.
Jordan and the Chiles family … they saw those predictions, as well. They “heard” the chatter on social media.
“She said, ‘I have to concentrate on what I have to do. I can’t get caught up in this,’” Gina said. “She wasn’t going to allow outside things to get in her head to put her in a comfortable place. She knew she was ready and she was prepared and her coaches had prepared her. She knew, as long as she put the work in and gave everything she had, no matter what happened on Sunday night, she was going to be happy with the outcome.”
Soon after the competition ended, the Olympic team was announced. Jordan Chiles could be seen showing off some dance moves on national television.
The Chiles family did not have a chance to visit with Jordan at the arena. The athletes had requirements to fulfill. It was another three or so hours later, back at the hotel lobby, when Jordan and Biles showed up to celebrate with their families.
Those moments are even more special considering the fact that the families will not be allowed to watch the gymnasts in Tokyo. Pandemic rules: No foreign spectators are allowed to travel to Japan.
NBC will not be showing the gymnastics live to the American audience, but there are plans in the works for family members of athletes to watch live. The Chiles family will be there, wherever NBC sets up viewing parties.
“We’re just so grateful she made the team and her dream came true,” Gina said. “The fact that the Games are happening is the most important thing. We’ll deal with the heartbreak of not being able to watch her in person.”
After all, the Chiles family has been watching Jordan mature, improve, and shine for years.
They were there when Jordan made the Olympic Team.
And they will be there, in their hearts, in Tokyo.
Note: Clark County Today expects to have more on Jordan Chiles in the coming days leading up to the Olympics. The Olympics begin July 23.