Jordan Chiles Qualifies for Tokyo 3 Years After Nearly Quitting Gymnastics (Video)

On Sunday evening at the US Olympic Gymnastics Trials 2021, Jordan Chile finished third and was selected to represent the US at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

For the 20-year-old Chilean who grew up in Vancouver, Washington, joining the US Olympic gymnastics team was a long-term dream.

“When I saw the 2008 Olympics, I knew I wanted to be an Olympian,” Chiles told On Her Turf last month. “But I didn’t really understand the concept of how to do it.”

Understandable when you consider that Chiles was only seven years old in 2008 and had only started gymnastics classes months earlier.

Between the Beijing 2008 Olympics and London 2012, Chile skipped levels (skipped six and eight) and became elite at the age of 11.

Along the way, Chiles had experiences that she now knows are not the norm for some gymnasts. “I was able to go to school dances because I went to a public school,” she said. “It’s an experience I wanted to have.”

In 2016, Chile was four months too young to compete in the Olympic trials, but the then 15-year-old was standing in the stands of the SAP Center in San Jose, California.

When the US squad was named, “I cried in my seat,” Chiles said. “And I don’t cry just to cry. I just howled my eyes out. “

Chiles left the arena and asked, “When is my turn? I had to wait another four years. “

Do this for five years thanks to the Olympic Games’ one year postponement.

But halfway through the current Olympic cycle, Chile’s Olympic dream no longer felt like a dream. In 2018, Chile’s second year as a senior, it became clear that something wasn’t working.

“I just wasn’t in the right mindset,” Chiles said in May. “I didn’t know if I wanted to do gymnastics … I would cry and cry and cry and no one knew.”

Your long-time trainer, Dimitri Taskov, realized that something had to change.

After Chiles finished 11th in the all-around at the US Championships, Taskov told Chiles that she needed more than he could offer.

“He’s done so much for me,” said Chiles. “But he knew I needed a change and he saw that I could be more than I was.

“I’ve talked to my family, I’ve talked to friends. I talked to Simone [Biles] – She helped me a lot, ”said Chiles. “I just had to figure out what to do with myself.”

At the end of 2018, Chiles made her choice. Just days after graduating from high school, she moved to Spring, Texas to train at the World Champions Center, the Biles family gym.

Chiles credits their new coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi, with their comeback.

“Laurent and Cecile brought my love of sport back – because it was gone,” she said of her new coach. “You have given me so much encouragement. I didn’t notice that so often in the past. I thank them all the time. “

The new training environment also gave Chiles a new perspective on the experiences they had left behind. “I don’t think I would be where I am now if I were still in this strict-strict-strict environment,” said Chiles. “My body would have just switched off.”

Chile’s success in the US Olympics came as no surprise. Chiles has been the most consistent American gymnast since early 2020. (Yes, even more consistent than Biles, who fell from the bar on the second night of the US Olympic Trials.) Starting with the 2020 Winter Cup in February, which Chile won, she hit every single routine, 24 for 24.

The four-man US women’s gymnastics team consists of Biles, Suni Lee, Chile and Grace McCallum. MyKayla Skinner was selected for the individual spot while Jade Carey earned an individual place by name through the device world cup series 2018-20. (For more information on how qualification / selection worked for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team, read here.)

US OLYMPIC WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS ROSTER: Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee highlight six US gymnasts for the Tokyo Olympics

This story will continue to be updated.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

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