When you talk about Team USA gymnastics, there is one name that rises above the rest. That is Simone Biles, of course.
She's arguably the greatest female gymnast in the country's history, perhaps in the world. Biles was part of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team that dominated in 2016 and took home a handful of gold medals.
However, most of those gold medalist Olympians have moved on. Who will be joining Biles to try and repeat as gold winners at the Tokyo Olympics? One of them is a friend of Biles, gymnast Jordan Chiles.
Who is Jordan Chiles?
Born to Timothy and Gina Chiles in Tualatin, Oregon, the 20-year-old has competed in gymnastics since 2013. Of course, this is far from unusual for elite gymnasts. It's a sport you have to start at when you are young.
She first competed at the U.S. National Championships in 2014. She finished fourth in the overall and won bronze on the vault and the floor exercise. The following year she won gold at the vault at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, and in 2017 she moved from competing as a junior to competing at the senior level for the first time.
Jordan Chiles & Simone Biles' Friendship
It was around that time that Chiles thought about quitting the sport before Biles encouraged her not to. She had placed 11th in the all-around at National Championships but wasn't selected to go to the World Championships. She doubted her future in the sport.
"I started questioning, 'Do I even need to be doing this sport?'" she told ESPN. "After [national] championships, I didn't want to do it anymore."
That's when Biles asked her to move to Texas and train with her. She said yes (you don't say no to an offer like that). Three years later, she's cemented herself as one of the country's best gymnasts.
In her first U.S. Classic, she finished fifth in the all-around. Still, she placed second at Nationals after that, which was enough to earn her a spot as an alternate for the United States team heading to the World Championships.
While Chiles did not compete at those Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, she made her international debut at the Stuttgart World Cup in 2018. She finished third overall but had the best scores on the vault and the floor. This earned her a spot with the U.S. team at the Pacific Rim Championships that same year. This time, she got to compete on the gold-medal-winning squad, and she took home two individual golds in the vault and floor, adding a bronze on the balance beam for good measure.
Chiles graduated high school in 2018 and signed a letter of intent with UCLA. However, she deferred her enrollment until after the Olympics (which at the time she figured would be happening in 2020, before, you know, the coronavirus pandemic happened).
That's when in 2018, Chiles doubted her abilities. In 2019, she decided to take a chance as she prepped to try and make the team for the Summer Olympics. She moved her training from Vancouver, Washington, down to the World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas, where Biles trained at.
Things would remain challenging for Chiles. In 2019, she finished 11th at the U.S. Classic and sixth at the National Championships. She did not make the World Championships team, and then in 2020, she couldn't compete at all because of the pandemic.
Jordan Chiles Olympics
Fortunately, 2021 has been a brighter year for Chiles.
Women competed at the Winter Cup for the first time ever, and Chiles finished in first. She followed that up by finishing second to only Biles at the U.S. Classic. In addition to her usual success at the vault and floor exercise, she finished second on the uneven bars.
The 20-year-old's success in 2021 earned her a spot at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials. She finished third at the trials behind Biles (naturally) and Suni Lee. Nevertheless, finishing third earned Chiles a spot on the U.S. team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The team consists of Chiles, Biles, Lee, and Grace McCallum. MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey are alternates and will compete in individual events for the American squad.
Jordan Chiles Mom & Prison
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) June 7, 2021
Jordan Chiles' mom, Gina Chiles, will get to watch her daughter compete in Japan, but after that, she's heading to prison.
Gina previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, according to CBS affiliate KOIN. She was initially supposed to begin that sentence during the Olympics. Still, She was given a 30-day extension by a federal judge so she can support her daughter.
The Olympics will surely be an emotional time for the entire Chiles family for more reasons than one.
In the last few years, Chiles was so frustrated she considered giving up on gymnastics. Now, she and her friend Simone Biles are headed to Tokyo to try and return to gold. UCLA can wait.
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