VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Jordan Chiles didn’t find a love for gymnastics on a mat or a beam. Instead, the junior at Prairie High School in Vancouver discovered it on a softball field, a place where the then six year old used to do cartwheels.
Nearly 10 years later, Chiles, now 16, has gone from cartwheels on softball fields to setting her sights on flipping in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She’s already been competing on the international level for the US Women’s National Team.
“It falls into that Olympic category, so like if you do a World Cup then you have Pakrims and Worlds and you do that for a couple years and then you have the Olympics,” she explained.
Chiles might have always been destined for athletic greatness. It’s in her name, after all. When she was born, her mother named her after Michael Jordan, a basketball player commonly referred to as the greatest to ever play.
“She is literally in love with sports,” Chiles said.
Being successful in gymnastics started at an early age. Once she traded in softball fields for mats, she challenged herself to be the best she could. A teacher once told her she needed to master a bridge kickover so she could advance in gymnastics. They expected they would have to teach her; she learned it on her own.
“They were like ‘Wow, like you just taught yourself this?'” Chiles recalled. “And then after let’s say a year or so I was like I really like this sport, like this is a really cool sport like maybe it’s meant to be for me.”
From cartwheeling to bridge kickovers, Chiles kept learning. Now she’s taking to the air.
“It’s fun to like be in the air like if you think about it it’s like woah you’re really high off the ground and you still land on your feet,” she said.
Chiles’ performances have turned into a sight to see, even if her mom — the one who named her with sports in mind — can’t watch.
“She can’t watch me on beam. She can’t watch me at all,” Chiles said. “I like look for her in the stands sometimes and I see her and I look for her in the stands and she’s gone and every single time after a competition (she asks), ‘How did your beam go?'”