Jordan Chiles flies high into North Texas as modern-day gymnastics superhero
Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles has gone viral for her fierce superhero-inspired floor exercise routines full of powerful tumbling, high-flying twists and flips, and perfectly stuck landings.
But off the mat, she's exactly the kind of modern-day Wonder Woman that the new Gold Over America Tour — conceived and headlined by her bestie Simone Biles — wants to exemplify for the next generation of little girls. In a 15-minute phone interview with CultureMap, Chiles stood up for her friends, talked about physical and mental health, voiced some big dreams, and explained how she refuses to let social media be her kryptonite.
The 20-year-old gymnast from Vancouver, Washington trains with Biles in the Houston area (and seems, to the casual viewer, to stand in the G.O.A.T.'s shadow). She gained legions of new fans during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after Biles withdrew from competition due to a medical issue, and Chiles 1) delivered unscheduled clutch performances that helped win the team silver medal and 2) bawled when Biles fought her way back to a bronze medal on balance beam.
Dynamic duo "Biles & Chiles" and a super squad of their Olympic teammates will bring the tour to Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on Saturday, October 9. It's been only four months since they dazzled North Texas at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, and Chiles says she still has the cowboy hat she as awarded along with her bronze medal.
The 35-city tour will also make highly anticipated stops in San Antonio on October 6 and Houston on October 8. (Biles posted on Instagram that hometown Houston was the city she was most excited to visit.)
The show promises to be a celebration of powerful female athletes that "celebrates the gold inside each of us," organizers say. The shining stars of the Games will each perform some of their most famous routines mixed with career highlights, personal videos, and social media interactions.
The Gold Over America Tour kicked off September 21 in Tucson, Arizona. The very first image released? A photo of Chiles seemingly in flight, rocking a superhero leotard.
Here's Chiles' quick preview of the show, thoughts on life after the Olympics, and what's next for her — including prospects for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
CultureMap: What can we expect from you and your cast on the tour?
Jordan Chiles: The tour is like a pop concert with LED lights, and it’s gonna be focused on a lot of gymnastics — because that’s what we’re there for — and then also there’s gonna be dancing. Just think of it as like a Gymnastics Spectacular, with a lot of interaction, so it’s gonna be really fun. We're not learning new routines, but we just have to keep our skills prepared because we’re gonna be doing a lot of gymnastics back to back to back, so we just have to be very, very prepared and very healthy throughout the whole tour.
CM: How do you like this entertainment aspect of gymnastics compared to competing?
JC: I think it shows another side to us because we’re all different in different ways. I love the entertainment side of things, I love being in entertainment. I mean, yes, there’s gonna be gymnastics involved because gymnastics is our base of who we are, but it’s really gonna be cool. I mean, I hope everybody enjoys it.
CM: The only Olympics teammate not joining you is all-around gold medalist Suni Lee, who is competing on Dancing with the Stars. What do you think of her being on the show?
JC: I love how they picked Suni; I have a feeling she’s gonna do amazing on that show. You know, it’s another opportunity for her just to get out of that comfort zone, especially contemporary (dance) because contemporary is a lot different than us doing gymnastics. And ballroom is something that’s totally out of our comfort zone. So I can’t wait to see what she does. I would love to go and watch her.
CM: You post some pretty fierce dance moves on TikTok yourself. Would you ever consider competing on DWTS?
JC: Yes, I’d consider doing Dancing with the Stars. It was something I always wanted to do when I was little, and I’m still considering it, so I’m just gonna let it all play out, and if I get the opportunity, that would be amazing.
CM: Speaking of social media, during the Olympics, was it difficult for you not to jump on and respond to haters criticizing your best friend Simone Biles after she withdrew to focus on her health?
JC: It was really hard because I’m a really good friend of hers. And seeing all that hate that people are giving her was something that was difficult as a friend to see and not to go on social media. But, you know, I know who she is and I know all those things aren’t true, so I just try to keep my cool. I know how to keep my cool, I know how to stay in my lane and not go further than I need to go. When it comes to those type of comments, I just let them be and ignore [the commenters] because they’re just, they're bully boxers.
CM: What’s been the coolest thing that’s happened since the Olympics?
JC: There’s been so much. I think my parade that was given to me when I came home [to Vancouver, Washington] was the most exciting thing because I never thought at any point in my life I would ever get the key to the city, so that was a really big opportunity and I was really happy, and really surprised that people showed up.
CM: What’s been the biggest adjustment now that you’re an Olympic superstar and everybody’s all in your business?
JC: I just like to stay very humble when it comes to a lot of things, and just stay true to myself and let everything just ride out how it’s supposed to. I just love every last minute of my fans and the support that’s given to me, so it’s really cool to see people — although some of them may be late to the Jordan bandwagon — it was really cool just to see how many people were like, “Oh my gosh you’re such and inspiration and idol, so I just love it.”
CM: How do you feel about being a role model, in particular, for little girls of color who might see themselves in you?
JC: I think it’s an amazing role. I just hope that I still inspire others that are also not in the athlete world, when I get older and I do what I want to do in my life. There are so many little girls out there, that, I hope, when they look at me, they understand that I’ve gone through the same thing that you’ve gone through and I still fulfilled my dream and goals. And it’s always about accomplishments and the success that you have at the end of the day. I hope that all those little girls see that, too.
CM: After the tour, you’re headed to UCLA. You're planning to do gymnastics but also study ... zoology?
JC: So, zoology was gonna be my major, but I actually switched it to general business. Zoology will forever be in me, so I might minor in it because I love animals to death. I used to have turtles, I used to have snakes, I used to have a chinchilla, rabbits, dogs, any animal you could truly think of. We used to have frogs, fish, I just love animals in general and I still love them. I want to learn a lot about their habitats, where they come from, their culture.
CM: What do you hope to do with your business major?
JC: I already started my own business (Melanin Drop Clothing Co.) and I have an LLC and all that, it’s actually doing really well, so I just want to go further into the business part of things and hopefully open my own storefront and just enjoy the business side of it. I love to be a business woman. Gymnastics is just, like, my little sport that I do, and so when I go into the real world, I want to be able to enjoy something.
CM: Sounds like you’re following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, whom you were named after. Have you gotten to meet him or interact with him on social media?
JC: No, I’ve never met him nor have I interacted with him, but his daughter actually reached out to me and she was like, "You’re such an inspiration, I know that you’re a sneakerhead," and so she sent me some [Air Jordan brand] shoes, actually. I was really in shock because I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is his daughter, I’m one step closer to meeting him.”
So hopefully one day I’ll be able to meet him. It’s something that’s been on my bucket list for a very, very long time. I wear the shoes that she sent me, but if I ever get a pair of shoes from him personally, I probably wouldn’t wear them.
CM: Maybe your agents can arrange for Jordan Chiles and Michael Jordan to present an ESPY together.
JC: That would be amazing. That would be amazing!
CM: Finally, we’ve got to know, what are you thinking about the Paris 2024 Olympics?
JC: It’s definitely high up in the air right now. I’ve thought of 2024, I’m just taking it day by day and see how everything plays out because, you know, I need to be able to be healthy in both kinds of ways — mental and physical — so we’re just gonna see how everything plays out. I mean, I don’t want to give you a definite answer, but it’s definitely up there.
Athleta Presents Gold Over America Tour; Saturday, October 9; Dickies Arena, Fort Worth. Tickets start at $46.50 through the website.