Jordan Chiles earned a silver medal at the Olympics, but the future UCLA gymnast is far from finished.
Jordan Chiles was a failure. At the very least, she informed everyone.
Chiles, a 20-year-old UCLA freshman, fell on bars and beam during Olympic team qualification, a stunning lapse in form after Chiles had performed flawlessly for the previous year to earn a position on the Olympic squad. Chiles informed her teammates behind the scenes that she had failed them. Following that, she called her parents from the hotel and informed them of the same thing.
Nobody believed her, but she began convincing herself that she had failed.
Chiles recently stated, "That was uncharacteristic of me." “Perhaps if it were the old Jordan, but as of right now, that was absurd.”
While "Old Jordan" made an unwelcome appearance during the qualifying stages, "New Jordan" won a silver medal at the Games. Chiles assisted Team USA in claiming a medal following Simone Biles' withdrawal from the team final due to mental health concerns. This is the gymnast UCLA will welcome to campus this winter, a self-assured, motivated, and empowered athlete eager to take on a new challenge.
Chiles shown her grit by stepping up and nailing her beam and bars routines after they failed to qualify her. Watching live from Los Angeles at 4 a.m., UCLA coach Chris Waller, who was already eager to add Chiles to the roster, was enthused by the future Bruin's resiliency.
Chiles is prepared to attend college two years after graduating from high school. She postponed her enrollment twice to pursue the Olympics. She had already fallen in love with Los Angeles.
Chiles, a developing entrepreneur with an extensive list of ambitions, includes competing in a World Championship for the third time after being left off the team three times, appearing in a Marvel film, and winning an NCAA championship before maybe returning to the Olympic stage in 2024. Soon, she will be able to settle in the city that has already nurtured so many great ambitions.
She is still eligible for a Hollywood ending.
Chiles may have already accomplished a life-long ambition of competing in and medaling at the Olympics, but she is far from finished dreaming.
Chiles imagines her long-awaited college future while sitting on a seat beneath a tree outside the Universal Sheraton hotel in Los Angeles on a recent visit. She aspires to lead UCLA to the NCAA tournament after the Bruins missed the cut last year for the first time since 2006. She's working on a dramatic floor routine replete with inventive dance moves that will serve as her introduction to the less-restrictive world of collegiate gymnastics. Above all, prepare to have a good time.
Chiles requires this beyond anything else.
“I want to be able to have a fun experience since the elite [level] is not at all enjoyable,” Chiles explained.
Chiles was raised in Vancouver, Wash., and earned elite rank — the sport's top level — at the age of 11, barely five years after her parents enrolled their hyperactive youngest child. She won the junior all-around and vault titles at the 2014 United States Classic. Chiles finished second in the all-around at the United States Championships three years later in her third senior elite competition.
The performance established her as a household name. However, things took a turn for the worst when she was dropped from the world championship team a month later.
“What I felt at the time was unwelcome,” Chiles, who was named a non-traveling alternative, explained. “I felt as if my teammates and the sport didn't want me.”
She desired to discard her prizes, ribbons, and medals. Seeing them only made her feel worse.
Chiles feels strong now that she has an Olympic silver medal in her possession. Coaches obsessed with notions of the ideal gymnast's body attempted to steal Chiles' delight. In Tokyo, she grinned broadly as she stood on the podium, the medal draped across her chest.
Chiles explained, "It's my shield." “It's something that will always serve as a shield around me. Whatever happens, I will look back and know that there are moments I will always cherish, that despite the events of the past, I was able to overcome them.”
Chiles earned the medal as a stand-in for Biles, her closest confidant and buddy. Chiles pondered abandoning competitive gymnastics and enrolling directly at UCLA after graduating from high school, but Biles intervened with a suggestion.
Come train with me, the world's most decorated gymnast stated in 2018.
The following year, Chiles accepted her offer. Chiles relocated to Spring, Texas, in 2019 after graduating from public high school to train at World Champions Centre under Laurent and Cecile Landi. Chiles' confidence had been shattered for years, resulting in uneven performances, but she developed into such a rock throughout competition that she did not miss a competitive routine in 20 attempts leading up to the Games. She benefitted from the pandemic's delay by recovering from a wrist injury.
For Chiles, who wowed fans in 2018 by wearing a Wonder Woman leotard and choreographing her Olympic floor routine to the “Spider-Man” soundtrack, training at WCC was a part of her superhero origin story — the protagonist was wounded in an early fight and stowed away to regain strength before emerging stronger than ever.
Chiles' route, though, is not as neat as the superhero films she adores. In the Hollywood version, she would have nailed each routine in Tokyo. She may have fought for an individual medal on vault or floor, both of which are her strongest events.
Chiles, on the other hand, did not qualify for any event finals. During the preliminary meet, she suffered a serious form breakdown in bars, fell twice on beam, and tapped her feet on the mat. She simply put herself under too much pressure, she explained a week later.
Following the preliminary round, Chiles retired to her hotel room and went to the gym, where she buckled down in preparation for the team finals. She encouraged herself to continue believing in the transformative power of her dreams. They'd escorted her this far.
“I was going to give it my all and demonstrate what I was capable of and why I was here,” Chiles explained.