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Q&A with pole vaulter Derek Miles
11:26 PM, Jun 26, 2012 | Comments
It was a hobbled Derek Miles who got through the qualifying round of the men’s pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., on Monday, but a happy one, too.
The 39-year-old assistant University of South Dakota track coach, trying to make his third consecutive Olympic team, will compete in the finals Thursday afternoon with hopes that a sore Achilles will, somewhat miraculously, quiet down enough to permit him to seriously compete for a trip to London.
Q. Judging from the lower qualifying heights (Miles jumped 17 feet, 4.5 inches), the conditions must have been tough Monday. How did that figure in the competition?
A. It got pretty tricky out there. They called off the women’s preliminary competition for conditions that were actually better than they were for ours. It was raining pretty hard and the vaulters were complaining. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to be doing at that point. Then we got a headwind in the rain and it looked like the whole field might no-height. I didn’t think it was going to take a big height to get into the finals. I thought about passing at 17-4, but after watching how the field was dealing with the conditions, I thought it was better to be safe than sorry.
Q. How does the Achilles feel now?
A. My body feels fine, now. I haven’t done much today, but I’ll continue to get treatment and see what it feels like. A few weeks ago I jumped a few times and felt pretty good the next day, but four or five days later when I tried it again, it was obvious that I’d done too much. That’s why I’m a little worried right now. I’m not sure how much of a beating it took on Monday.
Q. What type of treatments are you receiving?
A. I have one guy working with soft tissue stuff, I’m getting laser treatments, total body cleansing – everything but the kitchen sink. My thoughts are that if I try everything, there’s a better chance that one of the things will work.
Q. How would you assess the field at this point?
A. I never really focus too much on who I have to beat because in this game you don’t know what is going to happen. For sure, though, Brad Walker is the guy who has the best chance of medaling in London, so I personally hope he’s one of the guys on the team. Jeremy Scott has also proved himself over the last three years. My hope personally is that I’ll be able to run down the runway well enough to get on a decent pole and compete. That’s what it’s always been for me – I just want to make sure I can compete.”
Q. You started the Trials as a coach for Emily Grove and Bethany Buell (who finished 15th) – how well did it go for them in their first Olympic Trials?
A.The goal for the both of them was to get a feel for what it’s like so that they can come back here in four years and focus on other things. It’s tough when you have to start out at a height that high like they did. Usually they can start at a lower height and move through a few gears first.
I thought Emily was as sound technically as she’s been all year and Bethany came close to matching her PR. I’d say they both did well, but if you’re a pole vaulter, you’re always going to think you should have made the next height.