When Jordan Windle steps off the 10m platform this week at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, he will be officially diving for Team USA, but in his heart, the 22-year-old, Cambodian-born Olympian will also be diving for his gay adoptive father, Jerry Windle, back home in California. The talented diver and his proud gay father spoke with Today, and the two men had plenty to share about their long and happy road together as a family.
"I tell everyone, when they ask me why I dive, I dive purely for my dad and how much he loves watching me," Jordan told Today. "Without him making all the sacrifices that he has, and his love and support the whole time we've been together, I really wouldn't be where I am today. I have him to thank for everything, all my accomplishments. It's been an amazing journey with him, and we're still rolling."
And what a journey it has been for the proud father and glowing son. Their story together began in the late 1990s when Jerry saw an article about a single man adopting a Cambodian child. Being gay and single at the time made it nearly impossible for Jerry to adopt a child, or so he thought, but the article gave him hope. He took a chance and called the adoption agency, and they told him it was possible. A few months later he was in Cambodia, holding a very sick Jordan in his arms.
Jordan had been placed in a Cambodian orphanage at the age of one back in 1999 and was adopted six months later by Jerry. But Jordan was so sick, he was literally fighting for his life. With Jerry fighting with him, though, the young boy received all the love and medical care he needed, and he soon got better and began to thrive in his new home country.
Tim O'Brien, the former coach of legendary out Olympic diver Greg Louganis, spotted young Jordan at the age of 7, noting the striking similarities between Louganis and the young boy.
"He [O'Brien] said that he just saw something in Jordan, and it was kind of physiological but also inexplicable," Jerry recalled. "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.'"
Jordan started taking diving lessons and two years later he was the Junior National Champion, a truly rare and nearly unheard-of feat. The future Olympian continued with his dedication and success, diving competitively at the University of Texas. And after placing second in the men's 10m platform dive at the U.S. Olympics Trials last month (netting perfect scores of 10 from five of the seven judges), he's now representing Team USA in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. His first dive is scheduled for Thursday.
While Jordan gives all the credit to his father, a humble Jerry sees things a bit differently.
"I know the hard work that he's put into it, it's been earned," the proud father said. "And I'm just really excited and proud that with his coaching staff, he's been able to accomplish such an amazing feat."
Jerry won't be able to watch his son compete live in Japan this year due to restrictions on spectators in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, but he'll still be watching, and hopefully celebrating, at home.
"Not having him at the Olympics will be different," Jordan observed. "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."