Dick Fosbury, a civil engineering student who astounded his colleagues, charmed sports fans, and created a revolution in competitive high jumping with his backward leaps, died on Sunday in a nursing facility in Salt Lake City. He was 76.
Ray Schulte, Fosbury’s agent, made the announcement in a statement that the Olympic gold medalist from 1968 had passed away early on Sunday morning due to lymphoma.
After a brief battle with a recurrence of cancer, Dick Fosbury passed away peacefully in his sleep early on Sunday morning, according to the statement made by Schulte. “It is with a very heavy heart that I have to release the news that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed away,” Schulte said.
Fosbury Flop: The Game Changer
The “Fosbury Flop” was Fosbury’s signature jumping style, and it was largely responsible for his rise to popularity.
After getting off to a running start at a high bar, he launched himself backward first, appeared to float in midair for a moment while remaining parallel to the ground, then fell roughly on the back of his neck.
The process has been likened to a dead body being dragged through the streets and thrown out a window. Many people who were there thought that Fosbury’s flopping was somewhere in the middle of being a physical achievement and a joke.
It reminded them of Fred Astaire dancing on the roof. At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, the crowd oohed, aahed, and laughed witnessing Fosbury participate.
Richard Douglas Fosbury was brought into this world on March 6, 1947, in the city of Portland, Oregon. His mother, Helen (Childers) Fosbury, was a concert pianist and also worked as an administrative assistant.
His father, Doug, was a logging truck driver. He was raised in the city of Medford, which is located in southern Oregon.
In the years that followed, he frequently commented that at the beginning of his high jump career, when he was still in high school, he was the worst jumper in his school, in the school’s conference, and in the state of Oregon as a whole.
It is clear that he was not even a talented athlete, as he was not selected for either the football or the basketball teams at his school.
Changing The Future Of the High Jump
In the beginning, he would perform the high jump using the Straddle technique. In this method, the athlete dashes towards the bar and then tumbles over into a position that is similar to sitting up, kicking one leg after the other over the top of the obstacle.
Fosbury was feeling particularly determined one day and decided to test out a new strategy by attempting to clear the bars with his hips. The Flip started flowing naturally to him after a while.
The coaches did not have as much faith in their players’ abilities. They would either check the rule book to see if it was allowed, warn him that he could injure himself by attempting it, or just explain that it was not a winning strategy.
Fosbury did not take the suggestion into consideration. In just his senior year of high school, he improved his personal best by an entire foot. He increased the amount of work he put in at practice and uncovered a new interest in the sport.
It was not just Fosbury’s physical appearance that set him out as an unusual athlete. He was wearing running shoes that did not go together.
He possessed the arm strength of a chess grandmaster. Before beginning his approach run, he rocked back and forth, squeezing and releasing his hands in preparation.
In 1972, he received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Oregon State University, where he had previously studied. He settled in Idaho, where he established an engineering firm after making the move there.
Among his responsibilities was the planning and construction of bicycle routes and running trails. In the end, he worked his way up to become a member of the Blaine County Commission in Idaho.
He also maintained involvement in sports, serving as a vice president of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Association and teaching the high jump around the world.