Dick Fosbury, the Olympic gold medalist in the men's high jump, passed away on Sunday in Salt Lake City at the age of 76 after a brief battle with lymphoma. Fosbury's innovative technique, known as the "Fosbury Flop," revolutionized the high jump event and earned him international recognition.
Fosbury, who hailed from Medford, Oregon, changed the game of high jumping forever as a high schooler. He introduced the "Fosbury Flop" technique, where he cleared the bar headfirst and backward, with his body parallel to the ground. He saw a remarkable improvement in his high jump by one foot from 5-3.75 to 6-3.75.
Initially, Fosbury used the "scissors" style, an outdated high jump style. Later, he tried to adopt the "straddle," also known as the "belly roll," which was the norm at that time. Failing to master the straddle, Fosbury reverted to the scissors and eventually modified it to jump backward. That's how the "Fosbury Flop" was born.
Fosbury's athletic journey saw him win numerous championships, including the NCAA Indoor Championships at Detroit, where he first cleared 7-0. He won the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Berkeley, where he set a meet record by clearing 7-2.25.
In the 1968 Olympics, Fosbury became a surprise winner by clearing 2.24m/7-4.25 on his final attempt, setting Olympic and American records. He became a three-time national collegiate champion and was ranked number one in the world following his Olympic victory.
Apart from his athletic achievements, Fosbury was a passionate advocate for athlete rights and a strong voice for fair play and integrity in sports. He remained active in the sports world, serving as a member and President of the World Olympians Association.
Fosbury was an accomplished author and public speaker, inspiring individuals with his speeches and presentations. He wrote several books, including "The Fosbury Flop: A New Philosophy for Success" and "Leap of Faith: Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Success."
After retiring from competition, Fosbury co-founded Sawtooth Engineers, which later became Galena Engineering. He served as its president until he retired in 2011. He also served as City Engineer for Ketchum and Sun Valley in Idaho and oversaw the design and construction of several recreational trails.
Fosbury's legacy will continue to inspire many generations, and his contributions to the sports world will never be forgotten. He is survived by his wife Robin Tomasi, son Erich Fosbury, and stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps of Hailey, Idaho, and Kristin Thompson.