Photo courtesy of Baylor University

June 26, 2021

By Fred Liggett
FredL@lstribune.net

Daytime television isn’t known for compelling content and must see TV shows but on the afternoon of Monday, Jun. 21 there was one program highly rated thanks to viewers in Lee’s Summit and as far away as Waco, Texas. The show was the 2020 USA Olympic Track & Field Trials being held in Eugene, Oregon. Thanks to NBC sports cable channel and the website nbcolympics.com family members of KC Lightfoot here in Lee’s Summit and his former teammates at Baylor University were able to watch and cheer as Lightfoot earned a spot on the US Olympic team.

Photo courtesy of Kim Cipolla-Lightfoot

Lightfoot, a Lee’s Summit High grad, placed third in the Pole Vault with a score of 19-2 1/4. Lightfoot join Chris Nilsen and Sam Kendricks as three pole vaulters heading to Tokyo for this summer’s games. The Olympic qualifying mark is just the latest in a string of impressive performances by Lightfoot. While at Baylor Lightfoot broke the NCAA record in indoor pole vault and was named the 2019 Big 12 Outstanding Freshman of the Year. In addition to making several Big 12 Conference records while at Baylor, Lightfoot was named an NCAA Indoor All-American. Lightfoot ended his college career earlier this year to put his focus on making the Olympic team.

Watching Lightfoot reach his career-long goal here in Lee’s Summit was his mom Kim Cipolla-Lightfoot. On KC making the Olympic team Kim says, “It’s exciting, we are all proud of him.” While KC’s mom was at home watching on television his dad and sister were sitting in the stands at the University of Oregon. The minute KC made the team Kim admitted, “I just cried, just cried.” Kim feels the three pole vaulters headed to the Olympic Games “will make a great team for us.” All three know each other well and Nilsen is also from the Kansas City area being a Park Hill graduate.

Kim feels KC and the others are “a big pole vault family.” Once KC was announced as a team member on TV Kim’s phone “exploded, got calls, texts, Facebook messages and heard from so many people.” Since Kim was unable to make the trip to Oregon, KC got in touch with his mother via FaceTime right after the events ended.

Now that the Olympic team members have been decided it’s time to make final preparations for the games set for Tokyo, Japan from July 23rd through August 8th. KC Lightfoot is set to fly out on Saturday, Jul. 24 to begin his Olympic experience. Between now and then Lightfoot is set to participate in one or two meets. Away from the competition KC has been practicing at Lee’s Summit North and other places in the metro area. Lightfoot continues to train with his dad as he prepares for his Olympic competition.

For Kim it’s also a time to prepare for Olympic watch parties saying, “Family and friends will all get together.” The 2020 Summer Olympics will be seen on NBC for 16 days starting with the opening ceremony on Friday, Jul. 23. No matter what time of day KC, a two time Missouri State champion and NCAA All American, competes one can expect TV viewership will again be pretty high in Lee’s Summit and in Waco, Texas.