USD alum Chris Nilsen advances to Olympic Finals


Christopher Nilsen, of the United States, competes during the qualification round of the men’s pole vault at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

TOKYO (KCAU) — University of South Dakota alum Chris Nilsen advanced to the finals of the pole vault at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nilsen vaulted 18-10 ¼ (5.75m) in the qualifying round to punch his ticket to the finals.
A 2020 graduate of the University of South Dakota, Nilsen makes his Olympic debut in Tokyo. He was perfect in the U.S. Olympic Trials, vaulting up to 19-4 ¼ (5.90m) without a miss in the competition to take home the gold.

Nilsen was the gold medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games and also competed with Team USA at the 2017 World Championships. As a collegian at South Dakota, Nilsen was a three-time NCAA Champion, the 2020 USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year and graduated with the NCAA indoor record in the pole vault. He vaulted a personal best of 19-6 ¼ (5.95m) at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, breaking his own meet record.
Nilsen is USD’s fourth-ever Olympian on record. He follows in the footsteps of his coach, Derek Miles, who qualified for three Olympics – 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London. Miles earned the bronze in the pole vault at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The finals are scheduled for Tuesday, August 3, with competition set to begin at 5:20 a.m. Central Time or 7:20 p.m. in Tokyo.

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