Derek Miles qualifies for Olympics for third time

South Dakota track and field assistant coach Derek Miles earned his third trip to the Summer Olympic Games Thursday in Eugene, Ore. Miles will represent the United States in the pole vault at the Summer Olympics which will be held July 27-Aug. 12 in London, England.

Miles, a resident of Tea, finished fourth in Thursday's pole vault finals with a height of 18-4 ½ (5.60 meters), but qualified for the Olympics thanks to attaining the Olympic A standard of 18-9 1/2 (5.72 meters) in July 2011 in Germany. Scott Roth, who finished third in the pole vault finals Thursday, had not previously attained the A qualifying standard therefore did not qualify.

In an irony, Miles was also fourth in his first U.S. Olympic Trials in 2000. He tied for third that year, and lost a jumpoff to training partner Chad Harting, just missing the Olympics. This year, he finished fourth, but the A qualifying standard proved to be the difference, as he was the third athlete to have previously attained the mark out of the top four finishers.

The 39-year-old Miles, who competes for Team Nike, cleared heights of 17-8 1/2, and 18-0 ½ prior to clearing 18-4 1/2 on his second attempt. Miles earned the Olympic berth after battling through an Achilles injury in recent months

"The therapy has been really good," Miles said. "It has gotten me back to running on the runway which I wasn't sure I could even do…you can always grind through some pain, but when it keeps getting worse you can't do anything about it."

Brad Walker won the pole vault finals at 18-7 1/4 (5.67).

Miles, a 2006 Coyote Sports Hall of Fame inductee and 1996 USD graduate, qualified for the Olympics in Athens, Greece, in 2004, finishing seventh, and took fourth at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, in 2008.

Coyote junior Alexa Duling (Gregory, SD), competing at her first U.S. Olympic Trials, ran a time of 1:00.26 in the 400-meter hurdle preliminaries and finished 26th. Duling, the 2012 Summit League Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, was one of three Coyote student-athletes at this year's trials, joining sophomore Bethany Buell (St. Louis, MO) and freshman Emily Grove (Pontiac, IL), who competed in the pole vault on Sunday.

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