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Get to know breakout gymnastics star Jordan Chiles

Get to know breakout gymnastics star Jordan Chiles
Posted at 12:38 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 15:48:28-04

You know the name Simone Biles -- the most decorated gymnast in history, pushing boundaries in the sport nearly every time she competes. 

But this Olympic cycle, her legacy is growing in a new way: by helping breakout star Jordan Chiles rediscover her passion for gymnastics and emerge as a legitimate Tokyo contender. 

Chiles, now 20, finished second in the all-around at U.S. Nationals in 2017 but was ready to give on her gymnastics dream in 2018 after finishing 11th. She had been unhappy with her coach, and even after making a change, had "checked out from the sport," according to the New York Times

"I just wanted to finish high school and go off to college," Chiles, who's committed to UCLA, remembers. "But then I had a talk with Simone.”

Biles suggested she move to Texas from Washington to train at her own home gym, the World Champions Centre, under coaches Cecile and Laurent Landi. Two days after graduating high school, Chiles did just that. 

Fast forward three years, and the now-sister-like duo seems likely to be headed to Tokyo together.

Jordan Chiles' Star Trajectory

Chiles' breakout began with a win at the Winter Cup in February, her first competition since September 2019. She skirted past Shilese Jones by 1.95 points for the top spot and had the highest scores on vault (14.9) and floor (13.6) and tied for the best beam score (14.5). 

SEE MORE: Jordan Chiles edges Shilese Jones to take Winter Cup

Chiles followed up the Winter Cup performance with a No. 2 finish behind Biles at the U.S. Classic, cementing that her recent success was not a fluke. Chiles hit all four routines in Indianapolis and placed second on two events – uneven bars (14.150) and floor exercise (13.950).

SEE MORE: U.S. Classic: Jordan Chiles runner-up to training pal Biles

Chiles was officially on Tokyo watch when she competed in Forth Worth, Texas, at the U.S. Championships just two weeks later. She finished third on vault behind Biles and veteran MyKayla Skinner and placed fourth on uneven bars, balance beam, and on floor exercise. Chiles was named to the national team and selected for Olympic Trials.

In a poignant moment after her final routine, when Chiles was overcome with emotion, Biles was shown on camera telling her: "You deserve it Jordan, you belong here." 

"Simone was telling me that I deserved what I just did, and that I’m basically gifted and talented and I have the opportunity to make that [Olympic] team,” Chiles later explained. “It just all hit me then. I’m so close.”

SEE MORE: Chiles continues breakout year at U.S. Nationals