USD pole vaulter Chris Nilsen soars to silver medal in the Summer Olympics as fans watch from home

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s an exciting day for USD after Chris Nilsen made history by pole vaulting his way to a silver medal Tuesday morning at the Tokyo Olympics.

Nilsen went 5.97 meters or 19’7 inches, which is a personal best.

KELOLAND News spoke with some of those closest to him, who got up early to watch it live.

Former University of South Dakota track star, Chris Nilsen is coming home with an Olympic medal after soaring to new heights in Tokyo.

“I cried, I teared up, I was so happy,” Breanna Swee said.

His girlfriend Breanna Swee of Beresford was watching with friends.

“I was so nervous, I hardly slept at all last night, but it was really exciting every time we’d see him on the runway, my heart would like skip a beat, oh my gosh, just make it over that bar,” Swee said.

A bar he’s cleared so many times over the years, but this time it was extra special.

“It was huge it was big to see him succeed in the spotlight like that,” Zack Anderson said.

His former USD teammate and close friend, Zack Anderson, who placed 6th in the high jump at the Olympic Trials, was also cheering on Chris, calling him a well-disciplined athlete.

“So when I showed up freshman year and there was this Chris guy, he was like everything, every part of your warm up you got to do it dude and I was like what do you mean, can’t I just do some high knees, he’s 45 minutes by the book and it showed,” Anderson said.

Both say they knew Chris was going to do big things while at the Olympics.

“I talked to him in the morning and again before he went to the stadium and he said he had these flutters in his chest that he always felt before a really good meet, so I had a really good feeling about it,” Swee said.

Chris texted Breanna wanting her to pass along a message, that he wants to thank all the fans who have been supporting him through his journey.

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