She’s got Simone Biles‘ back. Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles defended her best friend and fellow Team USA member following the elite athlete’s decision to withdraw from the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo due to a mental health concern.
“She’s Simone for a reason. She’s not a quitter,” the Oregon native told the Today show on Wednesday, July 28. “You will never see Simone go out there and not do what she knows she can do.”
Additionally, the 20-year-old opened up about how she was feeling following Simone’s decision — after which she had to psych herself up to compete in two additional events, the uneven bars and the balance beam, to make up for the loss of a teammate. “I knew in my body that I could pull out everything I had,” Jordan explained on the morning show. “I did have to fill some humongous shoes but I did it for a reason, I did it for her. And she was there with us the whole time.”
Hours after Simone withdrew from the competition on Tuesday, July 27, following her shaky showing on vault, Jordan shared a heartfelt Instagram post dedicated to the Ohio native.
“To my best friend, just thinking about everything we have gone through together from us getting mad at each other for no reason to laughing at jokes, to bringing the love of this sport back to me with your help words can’t explain how proud I am of you,” she wrote. “I LOVE YOU and am literally crying just thinking about everything. WE did this together. Love, Jo.”
The UCLA freshman revealed in June how Simone’s approach to the sport allowed her to rediscover her passion as a gymnast. “I discovered that gymnastics doesn’t always have to be about strictness and being so hard on yourself and having so much doubt,” she told the New York 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.’”