A former South Dakota track athlete is officially making his mark in the world on the biggest sports stage in history. Kansas City native and University of South Dakota track and field alum, Chris Nilsen officially punched his ticket to the 2020 Toyko Summer Olympics in Men's Pole Vault.

How exactly did Nilsen secure his trip to Japan?  Simple: He earned his first gold medal at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

According to Dakota News Now, Nilsen was pretty perfect recording a "winning height of 19-4 ¼ (5.90m)."

He was the only athlete with a clean sheet in the competition, clearing six bars on first-attempt makes en route to the gold medal. After securing the win, Nilsen took three shots at the elusive six-meter bar (19-8 ¼), but was ultimately unable to clear it.

Chris Nilsen is not the first Coyote from USD to qualify for the Olympics. His coach, Derek Miles, is actually a three-time Olympian himself.  During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Miles brought home his own hardware when he placed third in Men's Pole Vault.  This had to be a cool moment to share not just as Olympians, but as a coach and athlete who have worked tirelessly together for this day.

The 2020 Summer Olympics will finally happen in Toyko starting Friday, July 23rd until Sunday, August 8th.  You can expect to see Chris make his Olympic debut on Saturday, July 31st as he competes in the Men's Pole Vault Qualifying Round.  If all goes well, then Chris will fight for his chance for an Olympic Medal in the Men's Pole Vault Final on Tuesday, August 3rd.

You can check out the rest of the Track and Field event schedule here.

Good luck, Chris!  South Dakota will be cheering for you in Toyko! Bring home the gold!

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