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“Not Easy”: Simone Biles’ Coach’s Thoughts About Jordan Chiles and Joscelyn Roberson Clouds Over Gymnastics Community

Published 05/15/2024, 9:56 AM EDT

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It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that Cecile Landi is the glue that holds Simone Biles together. Currently, the gymnastics world is abuzz with curiosity following comments made by Simone Biles‘ coach, Landi, regarding Olympians Jordan Chiles and Joscelyn Roberson’s fate hanging in the balance because of injuries in recent years.

But Landi has been there to guide them through the highs and lows, the mark of a true team player. While wear and tear have become a part and parcel of gymnastics, Landi’s musings about Roberson and Chiles’ probability of competing now may just be the glimmer of hope we need. While Landi has transitioned to co-head coach at Georgia University, she remains involved with her former trainees, including her work with Biles that led to three world all-around titles and medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Simone Biles’ coach stands by in solidarity, a messiah for Team USA

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On a recent episode of the All Things Gymnastics Podcast, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi opened up about Joscelyn Roberson and Jordan Chiles and said, “Now Joscelyn and Jordan, they both are coming back”Landi said the athletes are not 100 percent sure about the Classics, “… But pretty close. And by championships they should be.” 

Chiles won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. But this year announced she had to withdraw from the 2024 Winter Cup because of a slight shoulder injury. Missing the Winter Cup has definitely been frustrating for Chiles as she deferred her sophomore year at UCLA to train for the Paris Olympics qualification.

Landi said, “So I think Jordan, you know, she did Pan-Ams game which was amazing but I know missing worlds you know was not easy and the same she took it to, okay let’s get back to work and let’s show everyone that Jordan’s back.” Jordan definitely seems to be back and stronger than before. In the middle of May, Chiles will also compete in the upcoming Core Hydration Classic.

Notably, coaching under Landi has in a way helped Jordan strike a balance between collegiate and elite gymnastics. Chiles trained at the WCC for the 2022 World Championships. After the conclusion of the event, Chiles returned to UCLA. The transition was smooth, owing to one of Landi’s previous assignments.

Cecile and Laurent Landi happen to be close with UCLA’s head coach Janelle McDonald. “We worked together at WOGA for five years and we are best friends. We’re very similar and have super easy communication. And so we’re going to be able to talk about Jordan and what the plan is going to be for her to compete, to make sure she contributes to UCLA but not overdo it so she can keep doing the Elite part that she really wants,” Landi said explaining the matter.

Not only, under her guidance, Jordan also learned to safeguard her body to last longer, a vital lesson for any gymnast. On the other hand, Joscelyn Roberson has her own success story with Cecile. Roberson reached a career-high at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. However, during the warmup on the vault, she suffered a leg injury that forced her out of the finals and she could not compete.

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The 1996 Olympian turned coach revealed, “Jocelyn’s ankle was a serious injury from World Championships, took a lot of time and it was her first big injury so mentally and physically it was hard for her not knowing what to expect. You never see the end and now she’s on the other side and ready to go. Like she really wants it.” It took her a month to recover and Roberson said, “[This is ] God’s way of saying, ‘Hey, chill out'”. Despite the setback, the 18-year-old was able to celebrate the US women’s team winning their 7th consecutive World Title.

According to Roberson, her confidence is partly a gift from her coaches, “[Cecile and Laurent] have given me so much confidence. I feel like that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, they’re so knowledgeable in gymnastics and how it works… but just knowing that they knew I could do it and they believed that I could do it, it just gave me a difference sense of confidence that I hadn’t had before.” After the exit of such an undeniable pillar of WCC, the gym is poised to navigate a new path forward, redefining its identity and direction for the future.

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Navigating WCC’s path forward in the absence of Cecile Landi

The longtime personal coach of Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles is moving to Georgia’s women’s gymnastics program. In August, this year, Cecile and her husband will be grounding forces at the World Champion’s Centre. WCC has acknowledged that they will feel the absence of Landi, despite there being no hard feelings. One relief is that Laurent Landi will continue to serve as the head of the elite program at WCC. 

After landing the new position, Cecile expressed gratitude towards gymnastics for providing her with great opportunities in life. She got the chance to travel around the world, represent her country at the Olympics, and later coach elite athletes. Cecile added, “Those experiences have helped me become the coach that I am while putting athlete’s well-being first and helping them reach their full potential. I am thrilled for the opportunity to be the new co-head coach of the GymDogs with Ryan.”

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Cecile Landi is known for her individualized training. Under her, many athletes have flourished apart from Simone Biles under her able tutelage like Katelyn Ohashi, Madison Kochian, and many more illustrious gymnasts under the WOGA umbrella. In her own words, “It’s important to create an environment where the gymnasts feel safe, supported, and empowered to take risks and push their limits.”

Though this spirit will be missed at WCC, Landi will carry forward her repertoire and legacy to Georgia University. Landi even joked that it’s like the “United Nations in Georgia” with the convergence of British, Ukrainian, and several other athletes belonging to different nationalities. She is definitely excited to take on her new position head-on. 

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Written by:

Anchal Ahuja

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Anchal Ahuja is a senior Olympic Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. With over 5 years of experience in journalism, Anchal decided to pursue her love for sports and cover various pathways of the Olympics. She actively covers swimming, track and field, and gymnastics.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar