Jordan's path was altered first when he was adopted by Jerry Windle and next when he was compared to legendary gold medalist diver Greg Louganis.
Jordan Windle qualified to represent the USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics for diving after placing second throughout the meet, reported NBC Sports. But his journey to the Olympics has been 15 years in the making and goes further back to the time he was an orphan in Cambodia.
Jordan was only a year old when his parents passed away and he was sent to live in an orphanage. On the other end of the world was Jerry Windle, an American who always wanted to be a dad. Jerry met Jordan in Cambodia, and it was love at first sight. The sickly 18-month-old was brought to Florida and nursed to health by Jerry. Jordan was fighting for his life, malnourished and fighting off an infection. That child is now off to the Olympics.
"I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, his love, and support," Jordan said of his father’s support. "He’s always there for me, calling me. I’d give him anything, and I’m sure he’d do the same." Jordan's path was altered first when he was adopted by Jerry and next when he was compared to legendary gold medalist diver Greg Louganis. When he was 7 years old, a man named Tim O'Brien told his dad that Jordan reminded him of Louganis. This actually meant something was special about Jordan since O'Brien's dad had coached not only the American team but also Louganis himself. So he had to know what he was talking about.
"He said that he just saw something in Jordan, and it was kind of physiological but also inexplicable, and so Jordan said he wanted to go into diving lessons and I said 'OK if it's something you want to do, let's do it,'" Jerry told TODAY about Jordan's first step into the world of diving. "And so at seven years old he started diving, and he won his first junior national championship two years later, which is almost unprecedented for somebody that just got into a sport." He added, "I know the hard work that he's put into it, it's been earned, and I'm just really excited and proud that with his coaching staff, he's been able to accomplish such an amazing feat."
Jordan is now all set to make a debut at Olympics at the age of 22 after two previous unsuccessful attempts to qualify in 2012 and 2016. “It just proved that with a positive attitude and continuing to smile, anything can happen,” Jordan stated. He has had a successful stint otherwise in his diving career. As a senior at the University of Texas, he has earned gold for diving, five junior national titles, seven senior national titles, and more recently becoming a two-time NCAA champion. He has even earned the nickname "Little Louganis" as per the Olympics website.
Although his father has been a constant source of support, he will not be able to fly to Tokyo with Jordan due to the COVID restrictions. "I can usually hear (my dad) out of everyone in the audience, which is awesome. Not having him at the Olympics will be different," Jordan noted. "I wish he was there, but that doesn't really change what I'm going there to do: To have fun, show off a little bit, and put on a show for everyone. That's going to be my intention and I'm hopefully going to make him proud." The father-son duo has co-authored a children’s book inspired by their unique story titled An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy. It even has a foreword written by Louganis.
Jordan has a huge following in Cambodia where he has visited many times to inspire young kids. "There was a sea of media ... We didn't expect it, we didn't know how much the people of Cambodia knew Jordan, and they knew him because of the internet ... He's kind of a national hero in Cambodia," Jerry recalled. Now, as Jordan is set to compete at the Olympics he believes that he is also representing Cambodia. He even got the Cambodian flag tattooed on his arm so people can see it when he dives. "It's a really big honor for me," Jordan said. "There's a lot of people, a lot more eyes on me, but if anything it just makes me excited to be able to perform at my best and show that all this hard work can hopefully pay off."
Jordan Windle went from being malnourished in an orphanage to being a USA diver at the Tokyo Olympics.— New Day (@NewDay) July 21, 2021
"My dad really is my biggest supporter. You could see the emotion that he had after every single one of my dives really ... Hopefully, I can make him proud." pic.twitter.com/JLQWJtizzj