Dick Fosbury, the lanky leaper who completely revamped the technical discipline of high jump and won an Olympic gold medal with his “Fosbury Flop,” has died after a recurrence with lymphoma. He was 76.
Fosbury died Sunday, according to his publicist, Ray Schulte.
Before Fosbury, high jumpers cleared their height by running parallel to bar, then leaping over with a scissors kick, with their faces pointed downward. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he took off at an angle, leaped backward and bent himself into a “J” shape to catapult his 6-foot-4 frame over the bar.
Fosbury cleared 2.24 meters (7 feet, 4 1/4 inches) in Mexico City to win the gold and set an Olympic record. By the next Olympics, 28 of the 40 jumpers were using Fosbury’s technique. Today, it is by far the most-used technique for elite high jumpers across the globe.
“The world legend is probably used too often,” sprint great Michael Johnson tweeted. “Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time but the result made it the standard.”