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article imageChatting with Chris Nilsen: American pole vaulter Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jul 14, 2020 in Sports
American pole vaulter Chris Nilsen chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos while quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nilsen shared that he is excited to be taking his pole vaulting career to the professional level, and he is now a Nike athlete. "That was amazing. I was dreaming about that as a little kid, that's what every young athlete does," he said. "To finally put it on paper, it feels spectacular."
Earlier this year, as Digital Journal reported, Nilsen shattered the collegiate indoor pole vault record. "That was really good. It was not expected at all on that day," he said. "One thing led to another and the vaults got better throughout the meet, and I ended up jumping 5.93 meters."
On June 5, 2019, Nilsen won the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, where he cleared 5.95 meters.
Nilsen praised world record holder Mondo Duplantis for being a "really classy dude." "Mondo is a very mature young man. He has a great mindset and he manages to stay humble," he said.
He also complimented two-time world champion, Sam Kendricks, for being a great man of character. "Sam is a super nice guy," he admitted.
"Everything has been okay during the quarantine," he said. "I'm doing what I can when I can. Basically, hanging out and staying safe."
He opened up about the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021. "I think it was a blessing in disguise," he said. "A lot of people were battling injuries and some just weren't ready. It gives people more time to train, it's an extra year of training."
On the title of the current chapter of his life, he said, "Work in Progress." "Right now, I just finished up my Bachelor's degree in kinesiology at the University of South Dakota and I am in the process of going to graduate school to get my Master's degree in the same field, and hopefully, I will get that completed in the next year, he said. "Also, training is going well. I am consistently vaulting over 5.80 meters in practice."
He acknowledged that this pandemic has taught him "patience" in every aspect of his life. "Things are slowly starting to get back to normal and I am trying to stay as safe as possible," he said.
Nilsen hopes to be a part of the U.S. Olympic Trials next summer, especially since the United States is "blowing up with great pole vaulters lately."
He defined the word success as "going out there and competing against yourself" as opposed to competing against the other pole vaulters.
Nilsen concluded by thanking all of the people in his life that have had a positive effect on his athletic and personal life.
Chris Nilsen
Chris Nilsen
Aaron Packard, USD
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