TOURCOING, France — Chris Nilsen, a former University of South Dakota athletics student, broke a personal best of 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 meters) on Saturday in the Perche en Or pole vault competition for break the American indoor record. It was the first time Nilsen had broken the elusive six-yard mark in his career.
Nilsen, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist, did not miss the competition and cleared five heights on the first attempts before the record clearance on a first attempt. His previous indoor record was 19-5.5 (5.93 yards), cleared in his senior college season to set an NCAA indoor record. It remains the South Dakota program record.
Nilsen is second in the world this season behind Olympic gold medalist Mondo Duplantis, who jumped 19-9.25 (6.03 meters) on Friday.
A 2020 graduate of the University of South Dakota, Nilsen was a three-time NCAA champion, the 2020 USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year and had a college-best score of 19-6.25. (5.95 meters) at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, an NCAA Meet Record.
The previous American indoor record was held by Sam Kendricks, at a height of 19-8.5 (6.01 meters) set in 2020 in Rouen, France.
Nilsen’s US indoor record is pending ratification by the US Track and Field Records Committee.