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Derek Miles: Dark Horse Champ in 2008


Derek Miles: Dark Horse Champ in 2008

Derek Miles

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
At age 35, Miles was a surprise winner at the 2008 Olympic Trials, beating 40-year-old Jeff Hartwig plus U.S. and world favorite Brad Walker. Miles was the only one of that trio to reach the Olympic final, where he cleared 5.75 meters (18 feet, 10¼ inches) to finish fourth. A second place finish at the World Athletics Final was Miles' highlight performance in 2009.

Trials veteran:

Miles tied for third at the 2000 U.S. Trials with a 5.63-meter vault but lost a jump-off with Chad Harting, one of Miles’ training parters, for the final spot on the Olympic team. Miles finished third in 2004 at 5.80, then placed seventh in the Athens Olympics. His victory in the 2008 Trials gave Miles his second U.S. championship. Miles won the U.S. Indoor Championships in 2003.

Born to fly:

Pole vaulters are the highest-flying Olympians and Miles might be the highest-flying pole vaulter – away from the track, at least, because his hobby is paragliding. He learned the activity from fellow pole vaulter Tye Harvey.


Unlike most vaulters, Miles competed in a variety of events in college. Miles competed in hurdles, long jump and decathlon at the University of South Dakota, where he was a four-time All-American and the NCAA Division II pole vault runner-up in his senior season.

The stats:

  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 190
  • Birth date: September 28, 1972
  • Hometown: Sacramento, California
  • Personal best: 5.85 meters (19 feet, 2½ inches)


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