As a single gay man in the 1990s, Jerry Windle didn’t think he could be a dad. But when he read a magazine story about a man who adopted a child from Cambodia, the article didn’t mention a mother.
The story went on to describe the close relationship between the father and his son, and Jerry felt hope.
The story listed the number of an adoption service, and Jerry called it, mentioning that he found the number in an article. He asked if a single person could adopt a child, and they said yes.
Months later, Jerry held a very ill 18-month-old boy in his arms at an orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Jordan, the baby, had scabies and intestinal parasites. He was also malnourished and suffered from severe infections.
Jerry adopted him and nursed him back to health. Now, that sickly boy is representing the country in the Tokyo Olympics.
Jordan Windle, who was placed in a Cambodian orphanage after his birth parents died when he was a year old, will represent the United States on the U.S. Olympic Diving Team after placing second at the Olympic trials.
The 22-year-old said he can usually hear his dad out of everyone in the audience during competitions. But sadly, Jerry won’t be able to come with him to Tokyo due to COVID restrictions on spectators.
“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,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s journey to the Olympics started during a summer camp when he was 7 years old. A man named Tim O’Brien told Jerry that the boy reminded him of the legendary diver, Greg Louganis. O’Brien’s father, Dr. Ron O’Brien, had been Louganis’ Olympic coach.
O’Brien said that he saw something in Jordan that was ” kind of physiological but also inexplicable.” Jorday said he was wanted to take diving lessons, and Jerry supported him.
So at 7, Jordan started diving. Two years later, he won his first national junior national championship—an extraordinary feat for someone relatively new to the sport.
Although he grew up in the States, Jordan will never forget his roots. In his heart, he will also be representing Cambodia in the Olympics. In fact, he recently got the Cambodian flag tattooed on his arm so that it’s visible when he dives.
Jerry won’t be in the stands to witness Jordan’s Olympics dives, but they will have a California watch party. Their family and friends in Florida will have one as well.
“It’s disappointing but at the same time this is Jordan’s journey and this is the pinnacle of it, and I want him to enjoy this experience as best he can … That’s what I’ve always wanted for him,” Jerry said.
Jordan said that he will be thinking of his father—his hero and inspiration for everything—while he competes in Tokyo.
“I tell everyone, when they ask me why I dive, I dive purely for my dad and how much he loves watching me,” the athlete 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. It’s been an amazing journey with him, and we’re still rolling.”
Good luck on the Olympics, Jordan! We’re rooting for you and the rest of the delegates.
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