Forbury, who won Olympic gold in 1968, revolutionized the event with a radically different jumping technique.
Olympic high jump champion Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized the event with a radically different jumping technique that was eventually named after him, has passed away at the age of 76.
Fosbury won gold in the high jump at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where he was the first to bounce back to clear the bar, a technique that has since been dubbed the “Fosbury Flop” and is used by all high jumpers today.
The straddle or scissor jump were common techniques in the high jump. But when foam mats were introduced to break the athletes’ fall, Fosbury used his new technique on the world stage for the first time.
The American set a then-Olympic record of 2.24 meters to take the gold and change the sport forever, with more and more athletes attempting the back-first jump as the technique gradually became accepted.
“With his groundbreaking ‘Fosbury Flop’ technique, Dick Fosbury not only won Olympic gold in Mexico City 1968, but also revolutionized the high jump. He truly was an Olympic pioneer and legend,” Team USA wrote on Twitter.
Dick Fosbury dies at the age of 76 🇺🇲.
Considered one of the most influential athletes in history, he invented the back-first technique in the men’s high jump!
He won gold in the event at the 1968 Olympics with 2.24m. pic.twitter.com/78lQ19OYqx
— oluwadare (@Track_Gazette) March 13, 2023
World Athletics said in a statement: “Fosbury’s innovation took the high jump to another level and he remained involved in athletics throughout his life, sharing his knowledge and skills with future generations… He leaves a remarkable legacy.”
The 1976 Montreal Games were the last Olympics in which a high jumper won using a technique other than the Fosbury Flop.
“The world legend is probably overused,” tweeted sprint great Michael Johnson. “Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that seemed crazy at the time, but the result made it the standard.”
Fosbury’s gold and contribution to the sport also earned him a spot in the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.