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Chatting with KC Lightfoot: American pole vaulter and Olympian

KC Lightfoot, American pole vaulter and Olympian, chatted about his competitive career in athletics.

KC Lightfoot
KC Lightfoot. Photo Credit: Joerg Oegerli
KC Lightfoot. Photo Credit: Joerg Oegerli

KC Lightfoot, American pole vaulter and Olympian, chatted about his competitive career in athletics and the digital age.

Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This quote applies to KC Lightfoot.

A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Lightfoot cleared six meters at the Texas Tech Shootout on February 13, 2021, thus setting a United States collegiate indoor pole vault record.

On joining the elite six-meter club, he said, “That was a big one. It was always a big goal of mine. I had a little poster on my wall since 2014, with all the guys that were in the six-meter club, and once it happened, I got to write my name in it with a sharpie above it.”

He opened up about being a track and field athlete in the digital age. “I wish there were still some things being changed,” he said.

“Track and field is hard to watch sometimes, and you don’t get to see enough of it. With the digital age, it helps enhance the publicity out there and people can watch us on TV, live streams, and live results. Live streams would be useful for more events because when you turn on the TV and watch track and field, 95 percent of the time, you see people running around the track when there are a lot of other events that are not shown as much, pole vault being one of them,” he elaborated.

At the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, he finished in fourth place. “My experience at the Olympics was good. Obviously, finishing fourth is an interesting position to be in because you are right there for the medals,” he said. “I wish we didn’t have so many COVID protocols but we did what we could and I felt like we did a good job. Hopefully, I will have another Olympic Games to compete in.”

Prior to the Olympic Games, he tied for second place at the U.S. Olympic Trials (with Sam Kendricks), which were held at the redesigned and rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. “It’s a nice place to jump out there in Oregon,” he said.

On his daily motivations, he said, “Trying to get to the best that I can be in the future. Also, I am still trying to heal some injuries. I have many different motivators.”

Lightfoot is drawn to the sport of pole vault due to the “friendships” that he has made. “My friendships are pretty strong,” he said. “I like jumping but that doesn’t last forever. Hopefully, I will get to hang out with the guys that I’ve met along the way for a long time.”

For young and aspiring pole vaulters, he said, “It takes more time than you think. I am still learning things. I’ve taken thousands of jumps and I am still trying to figure things out.”

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Lightfoot said, “Rebuild.”

Lightfoot had great words about Olympic medalists and fellow pole vaulters Chris Nilsen and Sam Kendricks. “I’ve jumped with Chris for a long time. He grew up around me so we jumped together in high school. I talk to him every day, we are good buddies. It’s always fun, we have a good time and we always cheer each other on,” he said.

“Sam Kendricks is a great guy and a close friend. I love jumping with him. We are always there to help each other out,” Lightfoot added.

On his definition of success, Lightfoot responded, “Success can be in so many ways and so many contexts. In pole vault, success is making the bar. Success is accomplishing goals that you set, and having a good time while doing it.”

For his fans and supporters, Lightfoot said, “I wouldn’t do where I am without my coaches, trainers, and other people that have helped me. It takes a lot more than just me to do things, it definitely takes a village.”

Lightfoot also took some time to answer some “Rapid Fire” Questions.

Waffles or pancakes? Pancakes
Flying or driving? Flying
City living or country living? Country living, but I am currently in the city
Summer or winter? Summer
Library or museum? Museum
Bath or shower? Shower
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Texting or calling? Calling
Half-full or half-empty? Half-full
Curly fries or normal fries? Curly fries
Skydiving or scuba diving? Skydiving
Indoor pool or outdoor pool? Indoor pool
Tea or coffee? Tea
Rain or snow? Snow
Singing or dancing? I am not good at either, but singing
Burgers or tacos? Tacos
Long course or short course pool? Short course pool
Money or fame? Money

To learn more about American pole vaulter KC Lightfoot, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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