Faster, higher stronger: Story of Kenya’s talented triple jumper

Winny Chepng’etich Bii in action during the Arkansas Invitational tournament at her base at the University of Arkansas.
Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Winny Chepngetich Bii, 21, was born in Kericho County. 
  • The fourth-born from a family of six started athletics in 2017 while in Form One.
  • She competed at the 2021 World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi where she posted 12.47 metres for position 12 in the final. 
  • She is a second year student of Business Sports Management at Oklahoma State University, and became only the second woman from Kenya to win a medal at the African Games in Triple Jump. 
  • Winny jumped 13.64m at the 2023 African Games held in March 2024 in Accra, Ghana to clinch silver.
  • She boasts of a PB of 13.72m, a national record she set in the US in February this year after shattering her national record of 13.66m.

Why did you choose triple jump and not running?
I started athletics immediately after I joined high school. What made me do jumps is nothing but passion. I used to do the long jump, triple jump and high jump, but at some point, I really liked the triple jump more that’s why I decided to concentrate on it. When I started jumps in Form One, I was still young and did not know anything. Rift Valley is known for producing champions in long-distance races, but sometimes you just have to go with passion. People used to tell me that you are not raised to do the triple jump, you have to drop it and start doing 800 metres or 400 metres races, but that was just their opinion. I knew I wanted to do jumps and specifically, triple jump, and I went for it.

What challenges did you face in triple jump in Kenya?
The challenges were mostly to do with lack of facilities and lack of good coaching. Being a jumper is more like being a sprinter because most of the time you will need strength training, and a coach to be there with you to see what you are doing. I will always give credit to coach Caroline Kola (Heptathlon winner at the 1996 African Championships in Athletics). She really helped me when I made the team for the 2022 World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Colombia. She encouraged me, and helped me a lot. I didn’t know that even triple jump needs coaching.

It is not easy to deal with the challenges. But after school when I got that chance to study abroad and pursue my athletics career, I knew the chance would open many doors for me. I did not even think twice. I said yes and that helped me a lot. I was identified by a coach from the US national team during the 2022 World Championships in Colombia. Now, I’m in safe hands. I have a good programme with my coach, and she is always available.

How did your parents react to your decision to do jumps?
At first my mum used to tease me that jumps are for white people. She used to tell me that I should concentrate on running, but I really have supportive parents. They have supported my dream and they really encouraged me after seeing my passion.

Share with us your best and worst moments in triple jump…
As an athlete, my worst moment is when I have an injury. An injury can really drain you emotionally and physically. Having an injury is the worst nightmare an athlete can have. In 2022, I had a bad hamstring. It was causing me a lot of stress because I could not train. The hamstring was so painful, but God really helped me and I’m grateful. For now, I feel good. My best moment is when I see an improvement. There is no way you train for a whole year and not see any improvement. That's like you are doing nothing. But when you see an improvement, even a small one, even a personal best in practice really means a lot to you. It really pushes you to do better.

What lessons have you picked from triple jump?
The sport has taught me to be patient. You may not see the results immediately, but that does not mean you should give up. You just have to be patient and continue working hard. At some point you will see the results.

Which jumper inspires you?
I really admire the two Nigerian women – long jumper Esse Brume (world indoor and world silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist) and the 2023 African Games triple jump winner Ruth Usoro. Ruth has been a role model for me for so long. I really like their dedication. They have really shown the world that even Africans can perform in jumps if we get good training and good mentorship. 

What is your big dream?
My biggest dream is not just to end with the silver medal that I won at the African Games in Ghana, but to take this as an opening. I want one day to compete at the Diamond League, World Championships and those big races. People might think that it is impossible. But I know it is possible because if you put work into it and work harder, the results will speak for themselves. This year, I’m really working hard towards attaining the Olympic qualifying mark. It may seem impossible, but I’m not under pressure. I just want to work harder. I know I will make it because I believe in myself.

Apart from academics and school, what else are you involved in?
I love fashion and designing. I like anything to do with fashion.