Olympic champion Jordan Chiles made the nation proud when she scored a Team USA squad silver medal in Tokyo this year.
However, in a recent interview, she revealed that she was nearly driven away from the sport during her earlier years due to a verbally abusive gymnast coach.
“So I had a coach verbally abusing me,” Chiles told Taraji P. Henson and co-host Tracie Jade on Monday’s episode of “Peace of Mind with Taraji” on Facebook Watch. “She called me fat. She said I looked like a donut. To the littlest things that people asking me, ‘Oh, you’re eating this today.’ And it’s like, ‘Well, I’m not eating because you just triggered my brain.’ And it was really, really hard on me.”
She continued, “Because I was just like, ‘This is ridiculous. Like, what have I put myself through?’ But I was also enjoying it at the same time. So it was, like, half of my brain was telling me one thing, and half of my brain was telling me another.”
Chiles, the youngest of five children, grew up in Vancouver, Wash. She was after NBA icon Michael Jordan. The athlete has been competing professionally since the age of 13 but almost didn’t make the Tokyo Olympics due to a wrist injury. Delays due to the pandemic meant that Chiles could heal in time and hit the mats.
However, her former coach’s treatment of her meant that her flourishing career almost ended before it began. She says that quitting the sport crossed her mind several times: “I did, multiple times,” she said. “I would always leave a note before I went to school on the kitchen counter and saying, ‘I’m done!’ But I still went to practice that day. So…it was a thought in my head.”
She says her mother encouraged her to see a sports psychologist.
“And I was like, ‘I’ve never told anybody any of it, like, any of this ever.’ And she was like, ‘Well, that’s why I’m here,'” Chiles said. “So she helped me through everything, literally everything. And I wish I would’ve done that when I was younger.”