Olympian returns to ELAC as track and field coach

By Brooke Gemina

After spending several years as a professional track and field athlete,  East Los Angeles College alum, Edgar Lightbourn, has returned to ELAC.

Lightbourn transferred to the University of Southern California, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, before performing at the professional level in track and field.

He has participated in several world – level competitions, like the Central American Championship games, the Pan American games, and the 2008 Olympics, representing his home country, the Bahamas, in all events.

Competition at the 2008 Olympics included some of the world’s best athletes, including Javier Sotomayor who still currently holds the world record for the high jump.

At the time, Lightbourn had been competing at the World Junior Championship level.

While he did not receive any medals, Lightbourn commented that it was a very humbling and exhilarating feeling and opportunity to compete against such athletes.

His path to competing at the worldwide level was not an easy one.

“Everyday that I woke up, I had to balance everything that was for or against me. And I had to take the positive from the negative and have the positive outweigh the negative, even in circumstances when the negative seemed overwhelming,” Lightbourn said.

Obstacles came in the form of the unknown for him – not knowing if the opportunity and the time put in would be enough to accomplish his goals.

“I knew failure was not an option”, Lightbourn said. A lot of self reflection and internalizing helped him to overcome the hurdles in his life.

Besides competing in track and field, he has played a wide variety of sports including cricket, rugby, swim and volleyball. Volleyball, Lightbourn says, is his “actual heartstring.”

He still currently plays volleyball whenever he gets a chance on the court, but he stopped pursuing it at a higher level due to a poor experience earlier on.

Lightbourn commented that he enjoys being a part of a team in sports. He felt that the volleyball team’s energy and effort didn’t reciprocate his own.

This experience led him to the pathway of track and field.Lightbourn said,“track and field was so natural. I enjoyed what I was doing, work became play.”

Academics also holds an important position in Lightbourn’s life.

“I did a three – two program at California Baptist University and USC, in kinesiology and engineering,” Lightbourn said. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Kinesiology at California Baptist University.

Engineering became a magnetic attraction for Lightbourn, and it spawned from his interest in deconstructing things. His interest led him to study kinesiology, the study of the human body and its movement.

“I had to master how to slow down time and space to understand kinesiology,” Lightbourn said.

Coach Lightbourn tells his athletes that “education is a vehicle used to navigate and get through difficult circumstances.”

Lightbourn has a few hobbies, such as paintballing, backgammon (board game) and traveling but he has been unable to enjoy these hobbies because athletics consumes his life.

“I love his passion for coaching his athletes, that’s all he talks about,” Assistant Coach of Track and Field, Milton Brown said.

Brown met Lightbourn at Long Beach City College in 1996.

Among his coaching, academics and athletics, family ranks number one to Lightbourne.

While athletics take up a large portion of his time, he enjoys spending time with them when he can.

He has five children, ranging from his oldest of age 18 to his youngest, of age 4.

“My greatest accomplishment is my kids,” Lightbourn said.

His oldest son, Caleb Edgar Lightbourn, shares his first name. This is a tradition in his family as Coach Lightbourne’s full name is Edgar Errington Lightbourn, named after his own father.

“Everybody says that their family is number one to them, but nobody can define what family means.Always remember others came before us and allow us the opportunities we have. Your parents make those primary sacrifices for you.”

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Speed Duo—Track and field head coach Edgar Lightbourn (left) trains Damond Burns and Jacob Thorton after practice at the Weingart Stadium.

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