The new Audi Q2 is #untaggable, it can’t be pigeonholed. Just like the answer you get if you ask about perfection. Gymnast Jordan Chiles has her own personal definition of #perfection.

Helmut Werb (copy) & Jennilee Marigomen (photos)

Jordan Chiles wants to be the best.

The 15-year-old, one of the US gymnastic team’s biggest hopes for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, is aiming for a gold medal. And a world championship title. Is that the definition of perfection for the exuberant gymnast from Vancouver, a fairly middle-class city in the US state of Washington? What does perfection mean for a young African American who likes watching “Dancing with the Stars” on TV, and who, despite a strenuous training regime of more than six hours a day on average with all the effort and pain that entails, still enjoys her sport?

When she began her training at the age of just six, it was all still a game for Jordan — doing somersaults, leaping around on tables and chairs the way children do. It was her uncle who hit on the idea of gymnastics, partly no doubt as a way of channeling the child’s hyperactivity. Her parents, both preachers at a church in the rural town of Vancouver wanted to support their daughter and surprised her by registering her at a school of gymnastics. Then, at the ripe old age of seven, she started taking part in competitions.

Today, Jordan is fifteen, and her sparkling black eyes and ready smile seem to lend weight to her own personal definition of perfection: “Nothing will be perfect unless you have the will from within to make it perfect,” she says quietly with her almost dreamy voice. “You have to push yourself ahead.” It’s about “attitude,” she says, the way you approach what you’re doing. Surmounting your own obstacles, overcoming the minor aches and pains — then, at a certain point, what you do becomes perfect. That can’t be all there is to it, some might object. Repetition alone does not lead to perfection. “Yeah,” she says, beaming, “what you need is that certain something. The extra kick.” Together with her coach, she has worked on various different “kicks,” adding them to her normally rigid practice routine. Bringing alchemy to the fine art of gymnastics, you could say. “It works better with the floor exercises than with others. You can add your own trick. Something others haven’t done before or haven’t even thought of.” Her own thing, in other words.

Sometimes it’s just small things — a different hand position on the bars, a new style of landing after a vault. Jordan’s floor exercise, for example, includes a front triple twist. “As far as I know, no one had ever thought of trying that. But we practiced it for so long. And now I can do it in my sleep.”

Despite her tender age, the American has already picked up countless trophies and titles.

For now, she is still missing probably one of the most emotional distinctions for a sportsman or woman: an Olympic medal.

For Jordan, who has been known to wear lurid-colored Superman socks to school, life moves at a different pace. Unlike many of her fellow competitors, she attends a regular school — her parents insisted on it — and does not have a private tutor or any home schooling. In any case, Jordan readily accepts the discipline imposed on her. She doesn’t wear those socks to training. Admittedly, her strict coach would never allow such a thing in any case, but she consciously sticks to this regime in order to achieve her goal. So discipline is the key? At the same time, her own special brand of non-conformist creativity is a big part of how she perceives perfection. “I need that little tweak, that secret ingredient at the end,” she says, her smile becoming a bit more serious. “I think I’m a bit different in that respect.”

The young gymnast is always trying out new exercises with her coach.

She experiments a lot and wants to push the boundaries of what is possible for her. Physical pain is part and parcel of the sport.


Jordan Chiles knows that talent and a tough training regime are not enough. To get to the very top, you need that certain something, the extra kick, as she calls it.

It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, she admits, the quest for perfection is harder, seemingly impossible. “There are elements of an exercise that I just can’t get the hang of, no matter how hard I work on them.” But then she just keeps at it, and keeps at it. Until one day…

Despite her temperament, her bubbly personality that comes to the fore at times when Jordan is not training in the bare, impersonal gymnastics hall, she has taken on a lot. She missed out on the Rio Olympics due to her age. At still 15, Jordan was four months too young for this year’s games. But she wants to be there in Tokyo in four years’ time. She has worked hard enough on her own version of perfection to enable her to skip several qualification levels already. “I hope that in four years I will have perfected my thing.”

At the Naydenov Gymnastics & Fun Center, the daughter of two church preachers hones her posture at the bar and her landing after a vault.

Jordan Chiles started gymnastics at the age of just six. That was in her parents’ living room. They recognized their daughter’s talent and enrolled her in a prestigious school of gymnastics.
At a glance: the Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI
Color Quantum Gray
Engine 1.4 TFSI four-cylinder   
Displacement 1.395 cm3
Power 110 kW
Maximum torque
250 Nm
Transmission 7-speed S tronic
Acceleration 0 - 100 kph    8,5 s
Top speed
212 kph
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