Derek Miles gets bronze medal after 9 years

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KSFY) - A long over-due Olympic medal ceremony took place in Vermillion today - but the path to the bronze medal for american pole vaulter Derek Miles didn't go as planned.

He was originally left off the podium in 2008, after finishing fourth in Beijing, but the Ukrainian bronze medalist that finished in front on him was recent disqualified for using a banned performance enhancer.

"This is pretty cool, thank you," said Miles as Sen. John Thune placed his medal around his neck for the first time.

Miles credited his success to luck and his wife, who's been his biggest cheerleader since the pair met on the University of South Dakota track in 1994.

"We met in 1994 but we didn't start dating until 1998," Tori Miles said with a smile. "Then the rest is history!"

That history was the road to today's long-awaited ceremony.

"I should've just got the medal on the darn day, I should've beat the guy," Derek Miles said.

"It's been a long time coming, we've had our fingers crossed for awhile," Tori Miles said. "Now but this was definitely not the way Derek wanted to win the medal, he talks about that all the time. He should've gotten it done that day, but my son is here and even though he doesn't really know what's going on, he thinks it's pretty cool he gets to wear a medal."

Fans of all kinds came out to see the ceremony, including the Haber family.

"I thought because especially since it was 9 years after the fact, that it, I just thought it was cool," said Walker Haber, whose father went to college with Miles.

Others knew him in a different capacity.

"I think we're blessed to have him here at USD as a coach," said Jack Powell, a retired USD professor and current city councilor in Vermillion.

But none were more proud than the pole vaulters he now coaches.

"He's really a great coach and a great mentor and a great role model too," said Madison Mills, a fifth year senior pole vaulter. "He's worked so hard athletically and [in] his coaching career and you can really see that in the way that he carries himself and the way he interacts with us so it's been really special for me."

Mills said her coach is so humble that he would never admit that he deserves the medal.

"That's probably one of the best things about him," she said.

While the distance runners don't usually work with Miles directly, they still get to hear and see what it's like for teammates. The whole team attended the ceremony.

"It was very emotional, honestly, just listening to how he said how lucky he was in every step of them," said Lindsay Joyce. "Which then I was just thinking, well it also takes a lot of hard work."

That hard work is something a man who's known him for 25 years knows best.

"Derek has such passion for everything he does and that goes back to helping his athletes. he is the consummate professional," said Lucky Huber, his longtime coach and mentor, who's now his coworker and friend. "He wants his athletes to be great, works really hard and as you saw today, always does things the right way."

Even though they've known each other a long time, when they first met, Huber said neither of them could've imagined this day.

"We've been together for 25 years, so when Derek got here on his first coming to USD we went and sat down and got some cheesy fries and a Mountain Dew and put together a plan of how we could help him become the best vaulter he could be," Huber said. "We had no idea it would ever end up at the Olympics, let alone three Olympics!"



 
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