"This has been a dream come true and it's an amazing opportunity to be part of," the 22-year-old diver says.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 4, 2021. It has since been updated.
For Jerry Windle, there was nothing more he wanted than to be a father, but it was not as easy as it seems for him, given how he was single and homosexual. But you know what they say, all it really takes is a moment for your life to change.
He recalls how one day, in the 1990s, he came across adoption through a magazine, according to TODAY. "I started thumbing through a magazine and there was a story in there of a man who adopted a child from Cambodia, and it didn't mention a mother."
"The story went on to talk about the close relationship between the father and his son, and something kind of clicked in my head ... The article listed (the number of an adoption service) and so I called the number and I said 'I just read an article, is it possible for a single person to adopt a child?' and they said 'Yes, it is.'"
A few months after the phone call, Windle headed to Cambodia, where he finally got to hold a tiny young human in his hands and call him his son. The little boy, who was adopted when he was a year old, had been in the orphanage till he turned 18 months. When Windle finally adopted the baby, he was malnourished and fighting infection. But for Windle, it was love at first sight.
He named his baby boy Jordan Windle.
The same boy who was fighting for his life back then is now making his dad, and America, proud. You see, he's representing the United States on the U.S. Olympic Diving Team after placing second at the Olympic trials. The athlete's father is so proud of Jordan, despite not being able to cheer his son on in person due to COVID restrictions at the Tokyo Olympics.
Jordan, too, will miss seeing his dad's familiar face in the audience. "I can usually hear (my dad) out of everyone in the audience, which is awesome. Not having him at the Olympics will be different," said Jordan. "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."
Even at a very young age, people around Jordan knew he was going to carve a name for himself. When he was just a young boy of 7, a man named Tim O'Brien told Windle his son reminded him of the legendary diver Greg Louganis. What's surprising is that O'Brien's father, Dr. Ron O'Brien, used to be Louganis's Olympic coach.
"He said that he just saw something in Jordan, and it was kind of physiological but also inexplicable," said Windle. As for Jordan, he also said he wanted to get into the sport, so his dad happily obliged. "And so at 7 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."
"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," recalled the proud father.
When Jordan was 16, he returned to his hometown with his father to take part in a diving exhibition, aimed at inspiring young children in the country and was left surprised by everyone's response there.
"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," said Windle.
Meanwhile, Jordan said, "I went there (to) put on an exhibition for orphans and school kids that haven't really had the opportunity to grow, and it was extraordinary. Being able to speak to them, through a translator, and share where I came from in my life and how I was able to actually become who I am today because of my dad was awesome."
While addressing the crowd at the exhibition, he looked at Cambodia's government officials and said, "I hope you give all these children the opportunity that my dad gave me," according to Windle.
Now, though Jordan will be representing the U.S., he will also be representing Cambodia. "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 shows that all this hard work can hopefully pay off. ... This has been a dream come true and it's an amazing opportunity to be part of."
Jordan said he will be thinking of his father during the Tokyo Olympics, even though he won't be there with him this time. "I tell everyone, when they ask me why I dive, I dive purely for my dad and how much he loves watching me," Jordan said. "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."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Dylan Buell