(ATR) The turnout may have been smaller than in Beijing’s Bird Nest, but the ceremony for Derek Miles to receive his bronze medal was no less emotional.
Miles, left, was awarded the medal by Senator John Thune (USOC)
Miles, an American pole vaulter, received his 2008 bronze medal today at a ceremony at the University of South Dakota. In attendance for the 20-minute ceremony were United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun, South Dakota Senator John Thune, and U.S. Track and Field chief of sport performance Duffy Mahoney.
At the 2008 Olympics Miles finished fourth in the pole vault competition, behind Ukrainian Denys Yurchenko. Eight years later Yurchenko tested positive for a banned substance, and the IOC stripped him of his bronze medal. Had Yurchenko tested positive during the Games, Miles would have received his medal at a ceremony in front of a 91,000 capacity crowd.
Instead, a ceremony at Miles’ alma mater sufficed, and provided plenty of emotion. Even for a low-key affair. Miles took the time to thank his family and the myriad of coaches and advisors that helped him become an Olympian, choking up multiple times.
“To start with when I first envisioned this 4-5 people would show up, but I thought maybe a few people would show up and we say hi and thanks and go out for a celebratory drink,” Miles said ahead of receiving his medal. “I’m truly fortunate to have fallen into this place, so certainly appreciate everybody’s support.
“Mr. Blackmun is right, I should have gotten the medal on the darn day. I was jumping well enough, but it just wasn’t the day. I’m sincerely appreciative to have gotten this medal.”
Blackmun started the event saying he was proud the USOC could “right that wrong” of Miles not receiving his medal in Beijing. He then spoke about how the USOC is working to fix the global anti-doping system to ensure its independence.
“Derek should have received this Olympic medal 9 years ago; he should have stood on the medal stand in Beijing along with his fellow medalists,” Blackmun said. “Derek embodies everything that 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.”
More athletes are expected to be receiving re-allocated medals from the last two Olympic Games and other world championships on October 12-13 at a ceremony at USOC headquarters.
Written by Aaron Bauer
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