Jordan Chiles expressed complete support for her teammate and best friend Simone Biles after the 2016 all-around Olympic gymnastics champion withdrew from the team competition Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics.
“All I know is I’m going to support her no matter what,” Chiles said on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday. “I’m her teammate. I’m her best friend.”
Chiles, a 2019 Prairie High School graduate, was as surprised as anyone after Biles announced her withdrawal Tuesday, citing mental reasons.
“I did experience a lot of different things going through this whole time,” Chiles said. “What she was going through is something I’ve kind of experienced. I was there for her. I supported her.”
Chiles nearly gave up the sport three years ago before a conversation with Biles changed her mind. Shortly after graduating from Prairie High School, Chiles began training with Biles in Spring, Texas. Over the past two years, the two athletes’ friendship grew stronger, and Chiles’ performances improved.
So in Tokyo, Chiles thought it was her turn to encourage Biles.
“I did try to tell her ‘Look you know how to do everything,’ ” Chiles told Today’s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on Wednesday. “ ’This is you. This is your moment. It’s all up to you.’ ”
But when Biles ultimately decided to withdraw, Chiles completely understood.
“I can honestly tell you that she knows who she is,” Chiles said. “So when she goes out there, she’s already done this before. She’s already been an Olympian multiple times. I mean she’s the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) for a reason. And you know, when she knows what she has to do, she will take herself to that spot of ‘OK, look, I don’t know to harm anybody.’ And you know at the moment in time, she was telling herself she didn’t want to harm herself. And so you know, I was happy that … I mean we all understood what she was going through. We all understood everything that was happening, and we just support her.”
Biles’ decision also meant that Chiles would need to compete in the next rotation and fill Biles’ spot on the uneven bars, an event Chiles was not expecting to perform in.
Chiles posted a 14.166 on the uneven bars, surprising even herself.
“I truly did, but I also know in my body that I could pull out everything that I had,” Chiles said. “I did have to fill some humongous shoes out there. But you know, I did it for a reason. I did it for her. She will always be … she was with us the whole time, literally the whole time.”
Chiles also posted a 14.666 on the vault and a 13.433 on the balance beam. But mistakes on the floor exercise led to a 11.700 as the US team took silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee squad.
Biles also withdrew Wednesday from the all-around finals, but Chiles is still hopeful her friend will decide to compete in the individual apparatus finals next week.
But whatever Biles decides, Chiles will be with her. And the experience of this week has helped draw the two women closer together.
“This is the moment that I think that I truly realized that I’ve gotten so much closer to her than I really thought,” Chiles said. “She’s my ride or die. I will forever be by her side.”