Kansas City's KC Lightfoot vaults into 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

US Track Trials Athletics KC Lightfoot
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 19:41:30-04

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — For KC Lightfoot, his dreams started right where he dreams.

"I had a list and I printed it out," Lightfoot said. "I put it above my bed. It's been there everyday. It's still there."

Lightfoot, a pole vaulter from Lee's Summit, will be representing the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The list details the only pole vaulters in the world who have ever cleared 6 meters, the holy height of pole vaulting.

"Each apartment he's moved to, we'd pull it off and say well we're going to have to repaint that wall," joked Anthony Lightfoot, KC's father.

But then — after a number of moves — a dream came true.

Lightfoot cleared six meters in February 2021. It was a new NCAA indoor record, the highest vault in the country this year, and the third-highest in the world at the time.

"You have a little bit of time to celebrate on the way down. Whenever it's 19, 20 feet, you've got a little bit of time," Lightfoot said.

Six meters is a little over 19 feet 8 inches.

So there he was: 6 meters cleared, NCAA Champion, collegiate record-holder. He'd even won two high school state pole vaulting championships at Lee's Summit.

Lightfoot had met all his amateur goals. That's when the junior at Baylor decided to turn professional and finally start profiting off his vaults.

"I made quite a bit of money I couldn't take which is really unfortunate," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot immediately signed a clothing deal with Puma.

"I'm super-stoked to be 'repping' the Puma gear," he said.

It's been quite a journey from 7th grade when his father, a two-time state pole vault champ himself, got KC into pole vaulting.

"He just did it," his dad said. "It was kind of natural."

"Everything went pretty well from the beginning," KC said. "I just kind of stuck with it and here we are."

Here we are, on the verge of the Olympic Games, after Lightfoot qualified as one of the three male pole vaulters the United States will send to Tokyo.

"The game plan is just like you would think," KC said. "Work out hard until then, hope the stars align, and everything works out."

It's "KC" looking to represent "KC" on the world stage, even though he's named after his mom's initials and not the metropolitan area he's from.

"And then I heard one the other day about my middle name, 'Lee,' and they were like, 'oh its for Lee's Summit right?' And I'm like 'No,'" KC said.

Speaking of names, KC has now added his own to the list above his bed.

"I did it in Sharpie on the tape. I didn't want to ruin the list, but I put my name finally on that 6 meter list."