In fact, if it wasn’t for Biles, 24, Chiles, 20 might’ve quite elite gymnastics altogether in 2018. Flash forward to 2021, Biles and Chiles, along with Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum, will compete for gold in the Team Women’s Gymnastics event.
Here’s what you need to know about Biles and Chiles, and how they support one another in and out of the gym:
1. Biles Invited Chiles to Train With Her While They Were Roommates at the 2018 World Championship Team Trials
Chiles grew up training at Naydenov Gymnastics in Vancouver, Washington. She was an up-and-coming star in elite gymnastics after earning silver at the national championships in 2017. But after failing to earn a spot on the Worlds team roster, Chiles felt defeated and vented to Biles, who was her roommate at the meet.
“I guess this sport is coming to an end for me because things just aren’t working out for me at all whatsoever,'” she recalled to The New York Times. “I just wanted to finish high school and go off to college. But then I had a talk with Simone,” who invited Chiles to train with her in Texas.
“I told her, ‘I think I’m going to do it. I’m ready now,'” Chiles said, per ESPN. “Simone was like, ‘This is a big thing, are you sure?’ But I knew I was and that I had to make a change.”
Chiles deferred her attendance at UCLA to focus on her training and relocated to Spring, Texas in mid-2019 to work under coaches Cecile and Laurent Landi at the World Championship Centre, the gym Biles’ family owns.
“I discovered that gymnastics doesn’t always have to be about strictness and being so hard on yourself and having so much doubt,” Chiles told the Times. “I actually realized this when I saw Simone compete. She looks like she’s having fun out there, laughing and giggling, and doesn’t look stressed or tired. I was like, ‘You know, I’m going to try that one of these days and see how it turns out.'”
2. Biles Helped Chiles Feel More Confident With Her Body & Appearance
Early in Chiles’ career, she worried about her body’s appearance. She didn’t even believe that she could compete at an elite level until seeing Shawn Johnson’s tiny and very muscular frame win gold at the 2008 Olympics.
At age 16, Chiles was already careful with her diet, as she’d been told time and again not to gain an ounce of weight or even lift a dumbbell lest she add too much muscle to her already chiseled frame, she recalled to The New York Times. She was told how to cut her hair because it was “too poufy.”
While at WCC with Biles, Chiles got to train alongside numerous Black gymnasts, and feel more comfortable in her skin.
“Coming into the sport when I was younger, there obviously weren’t a lot of African Americans in the gymnastics world,” she said. “It feels like the world has changed when it comes to the diversity aspect of it, and I’m in awe.”
3. Biles & Chiles Have Matching Gold Olympic Rings Necklaces
After Chiles earned her spot on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team, she got emotional discussing what it’s like to have the G.O.A.T. as her support buddy.
“Having her by my side 24/7 and giving me encouraging words every day definitely helped, and it was very motivational,” Chiles told TODAY. “Very happy to have someone like her.”
After they qualified for the team, Biles gave her friend a gold necklace featuring the Olympic rings, the same one she wears around her neck. “She said she was waiting a while to give it to me,” Chiles said.
4. Biles Is So Proud of How Quickly Chiles Improved After Moving to Texas
While Biles is already a five-time Olympic medalist, having Chiles training alongside her inspired her to work even harder.
“Jordan has improved significantly since she first arrived at WCC, both mentally and physically,” Biles told ESPN. “It’s been exciting to watch her grow in and out of the gym. I see her pushing herself every day, which is inspiring. She’s sacrificed so much for her dreams.”
But Chiles gives all the credit to Biles, and the atmosphere her family created at the WCC:
The experience of [training with Biles] in the gym and being her teammate definitely is a game-changer,” said Chiles. “I never had a teammate before this and when I went there, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is what it is like to have teammates? This is cool.’ It’s a different type of energy than you see in most gyms. We all laugh, we tell jokes, we give each other hugs and high fives and fist bumps and it gets us through the tough days. We all want to push each other to do our absolute best.
5. Chiles Is Not Looking to Be the ‘Next Simone’
While Chiles is honored to be taken under Biles’ wing, she is not looking to become her.
“I need to be able to go out there and just be Jordan and not try to be somebody that… I don’t know, like the next Gabby [Douglas], the next Simone,” she explained to USA Today earlier this year. “I want to be the next Jordan. I’m myself.”
It’s a credo Biles respects, as it mirrors her own motto. Biles told E! News in June, “My advice is to be your own person. Don’t let anybody tell you different. If you have goals, dreams, whatever it is, go for it.”