Tokyo 2020 was already set to be an Olympics like no other, but for US gymnasts Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum, stepping up when star Simone Biles withdrew from the team finals added another layer of pressure to their Games experience.
“I know we all just kind of felt really bad for Simone because we know how hard she worked to get here and all the extra years she put into this,” McCallum told CNN’s Coy Wire.
“It was nice that she came over to us and was like, ‘You know what, you got this, like, I believe in you guys, you can do this.’ And so that was really reassuring. And I think that’s what gave us a jumpstart to the rest of the meet,” McCallum said.
Chiles, who was encouraged to get back into the sport by Biles, knew it was her time to shine.
“We knew we had to switch our flip, switch the light on basically like, ‘Okay, look, guys, we have this, we know how to do it,'” Chiles told CNN.
“We’ve been working our butts off since we were little to be at this point. And we just had to do what we had to do.”
The US went on to earn silver in the team finals, while other members of Team USA have also found success in the individual events — Sunisa Lee won gold in the individual all-around as well as a bronze on bars, Jade Carey brought home gold in the floor exercise and MyKayla Skinner took silver on the vault.
Now, Biles is finally back for the balance beam final on Tuesday.
“SO LOUD!” is exactly how Chiles and McCallum will cheer for Biles tonight.
“She’s truly an inspiration. She works so hard in the gym. She’s always pushing us. She’s always cheering us on. I mean, you really couldn’t ask for a better role model. She’s just an amazing person,” said McCallum.
“She’s not a quitter at all,” said Chiles adding that, no matter what happens, she’ll still be the GOAT. “She’ll still be Simone Biles. She’s still gonna be loved by all of America, she’s gonna represent herself better than she did before.”