Former high jumper Dick Fosbury has died at the age of 76. The American athlete introduced a new technique at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico and jumped over 2.24 meters to Olympic gold. The backwards jumping technique that gets its name with the Fosbury Flop has been used by almost all high jumpers ever since.
Fosbury manager Ray Schulte said on Monday that the athlete had died the previous day from the effects of a form of cancer. “It is with great sadness that I must inform you that my friend and one of the most influential athletes in the history of athletics passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday morning after a short battle with recurrent lymphoma. Dick will be greatly missed by friends and fans around the world. A true legend and friend to all.”
The high jumper developed his style in the 1960s, when he was still in school, jumping first in an arc over the bar after a sprint with his shoulders. Prior to that time, high jumpers jumped with a roll jump, the so-called “straddle technique”, with one leg first placed over the bar. “I knew I had to get my hips up and to do that I had to get my shoulders out of the way. I jumped 5 feet 7 inches like that and I improved myself 6 inches that day,” Fosbury told Athletics Weekly in 2011.
It wasn’t until 1968 that Fosbury’s new jumping style became noticed on the international stage. After his victory in the university tournaments, a victory in the American qualifiers for the Olympic Games followed. At the Games in Mexico, Fosbury defeated teammate Ed Carruthers and Valentin Gavrilov of the Soviet Union with a new Olympic record of 2.24 metres.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to contribute to the sport, but I had absolutely no intention of doing so,” said Fosbury. “It was not my intention to change the part. I knew my technique was my path to success. I had the technique, which was just me.”
At the 1968 Games, only Fosbury jumped in this manner. At the next Games in Munich in 1972, 28 out of 40 participants adopted his jumping method. , , After I won the gold medal, I thought one or two high jumpers would take over my technique. I never thought it would become the world high jumper.”
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