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Former USD Coyote Nilsen wins silver medal in pole vault

Hits personal best 5.97 meters
Christopher Nilsen, of the United States, celebrates after winning the silver medal in the...
Christopher Nilsen, of the United States, celebrates after winning the silver medal in the men's pole vault final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)(Matthias Schrader | AP)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 8:06 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Former USD Coyote pole vaulter Chris Nilsen has won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Nilsen cleared a personal best of 5.97 meters - 19.58 feet - on his first attempt to assure himself of the silver medal.

In what would end up being a rematch of their 2019 NCAA Championship dual, which Nilsen won, world record holder Armand Duplantis from Sweden matched Nilsen’s 5.97 clearance on his first vault. Duplantis won the gold by clearing 6.02 meters on his first attempt while Nilsen came up short in his three attempts at that mark. Duplantis would attempt a world record 6.19 meters following that, twice getting over the bar but grazing it and bringing it down on his way over.

Nilsen, a three-time NCAA Champion and this year’s United States champion, easily cleared 5.55 meters and 5.70 meters on his first attempts shortly after the competition began at 5:20 a.m. CST. He came up short on his first attempt at 5.80 meters but made his second to advance. He then went over 5.87, 5.92 to clinch a spot on the podium before hitting 5.97 meters.

He is the second USD alum to medal in the Olympics, joining coach Derek Miles who won bronze in the pole vault in 2008.

The bronze in this competition went to Brazil’s Thiago Braz for clearing 5.87 meters.

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