USD track and field coach presented Olympic bronze medal
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USD track and field coach presented Olympic bronze medal

Derek Miles, a USD alumnus and current track and field coach, received a bronze medal Monday for his pole vaulting performance during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Miles placed fourth in the event nine years ago, but after the International Olympic Committee stripped a handful of athletes of their medals for banned substances found during retests of samples from the games, Miles was awarded third place.

The medal presentation occurred in the DakotaDome Club this week. Speakers at the event included John Thune, South Dakota U.S. Senator, Scott Blackmun, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO: and Duffy Mahoney, U.S. Track and Field Chief of
Sport Performance.

Blackmun said Miles had great success as a pole vaulting athlete and deserved the bronze medal.

“It is an honor to be here to pay tribute to one of South Dakota’s world-class athletes, he said during the ceremony. “Derek embodies everything the Olympic movement stands for. He traveled the world representing the university, the state of South Dakota and our country as a proud member of Team USA. He was and continues to be an ambassador for the values and ideals of the
Olympic movement.”

Blackmun mentioned several of Miles’ accomplishments, including being a five-time All-American, competing in three Olympic games and competing in six world championships.

Thune also spoke of Miles’ contribution to USD and his success as an individual athlete.

“I have watched Derek as an athlete and as a coach of these young men and women here at the University of South Dakota,” Thune said. “The remarkable success that they’ve had is a clear testimony to how you have been able to impart not only the skills and talents necessary to succeed in the sport, but also the values that are so important in life. Everybody here knows Derek Miles by the title ‘coach.’ Now you’re going to know him by the title ‘Olympic bronze medalist.’”

Miles has been a coach at USD for the past 14 years, and said his time as both an athlete and a coach at USD have been essential to his success.

“When you come to an area with amazing people, there’s always someone there who’s going to help you,” Miles said. “I am truly fortunate to have fallen into this place and you guys are probably stuck with me, as I’m not sure I’m ever going to leave.”

Miles recognized several people for his success, including his parents, his wife, coach Lucky Huber, coach Dave Gottsleben, USD President James Abbott and David Herbster, USD’s athletic director.

Miles and other members of the 2008 Team USA receiving reallocated medals will attend an official ceremony at the 2017 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly in Colorado Springs, Colorado in October.