From a Cambodian Orphanage to the Olympics – Inspiring Story of Jordan Windle
Jordan Windle's life has been defined by many trying moments, but for him, simply rolling over and letting life kick him around was never an option. That lofty mindset was what helped him make the Olympics held in Tokyo this year.
On his third attempt at the US Olympic Diving trials, the talented 22-year-old pulled off a dive worthy of five 10s and two 9.5s in the finals. It guaranteed him a spot on the US roster alongside fellow diver Brandon Loschiavo, who finished first in the trials.
Windle's dream to make it to the Olympics has been fifteen years in the making. Yet, the achievement was worth all the painful memories he has of falling short of contention in 2012 and 2016.
In fact, the athlete left all those memories at the depth of a plunge pool he rose from after his sublime dive. For him, it was clear proof of what a positive attitude and copious smiling can do for one's dream.
He is not just saying that; Windle truly has been through it. To understand more about this talented athlete, let's take a dive into his origins.
HE FOUND FAVOR AFTER GETTING ADOPTED
Windle's origins can be traced back to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he was born. He ran into his first hurdle when his parents passed away just a year after he was born, which led to him getting transferred to an orphanage located in the country's capital, Phnom Penh.
His fate took a turn for the better a year later after he was adopted by a gay American named Jerry Windle. Up until the time of his adoption, he was struggling to stay alive, and when Jerry found him fighting, he fell in love with him.
Louganis was given the honor of writing the foreword of a children's book written by Jerry and his adopted son Jordan.
The man, who had been warned about how impossible it is to be gay and a father at the same time, took him along when he returned to the US and went on to raise him in Florida.
At a summer camp, the young Windle attended at age seven, his talents were spotted by Tim O'Brien— his father Ron O'Brien was the coach responsible for many of America's elite divers, including four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis.
Certain the boy's skills could be put to good use, O'Brien urged his father to commit him to the sport. The man took his advice, and two short years later, Windle bagged his first national title.
Windle went on to dive for gold, winning up to five junior national titles, seven senior national titles, and recently becoming a two-time NCAA champion.
HIS SUPPORT SYSTEM
Thanks to Windle's talent and general outlook on life, the legendary Louganis took him under his wing. The equally talented athlete would often urge his young mentee forward with golden nuggets of advice borne of experience, and Windle took it all to heart.
The two share a deep bond, and this was proven in 2011 when Louganis was given the honor of writing the foreword of a children's book written by Jerry and his adopted son Jordan.
The story was inspired by the remarkable bond the father and son share, and it was titled "An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy."
GIVING BACK TO HIS ROOTS
Windle has not neglected his origins. In 2016, he returned to Cambodia for the first time since he left with his adoptive father to perform a diving exhibition for the orphans of Phnom Penh.
His reasons? To inspire them and show them that nothing is impossible. The Olympic athlete is just one of many who have chosen to return to their roots to add value and make a difference in one way or another.
With the example they are setting, many children, especially those who live without hope for a better tomorrow, will grow with the knowledge that sports can be a gateway to stability, if not riches.