WACO -- Baylor's Felix Obi never dreamed of being a triple jumper. He wanted to be a basketball player.

"When I was little, I thought I was going to play basketball," said the freshman at Baylor. "I was bent on basketball till I was a sophomore in high school."

He's not alone -- no one dreams of becoming a triple jumper. It's such a strange event. Even Obi's coach agrees.

"I don't know. I don't know! I'm like, who was sitting around and decided, 'Oh, let's try this one leg or doing that," said Stacey Smith, Baylor's jumps coach. "I have no idea!"

It works like this: the jumper sprints down the runway, leaps off one foot and then lands on that same foot. Two more big strides, and into the sand pit. Longest jump wins.

"Triple jump -- it's just technique, strength and natural jumping ability," Obi said.

The triple jump is definitely a niche event, and Obi has found his niche. He's the first Baylor athlete to win a Big 12 title in the men's triple jump. His coach won one on the women's side in 1999.

Obi won state in the triple jump for El Paso Franklin a year ago, and he keeps getting better. This season, he has broken his personal best three times and has the fifth-longest jump in the country this year.

"It feels like I'm skyrocketing this year, compared to last year," Obi said. "I had a couple meets where I had bigger jumps, but this meet, it feels like everything is just clicking better."

"His goal? Olympic jumper," said his coach. "He's so young, he's a freshman. He's going to be, hopefully, like a Will Clay or a Cushing Taylor. He continues to get strong, hopefully keeps his head straight, be a child to the sport and learn to the sport, I think he'll definitely be, he has that Olympic ability now, and I think that's one of his goals."

But that's jumping ahead. Next up is to try and win the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in May.


Twitter @tedmadden

Read or Share this story: