‘Supreme audacity’: High jump pioneer Fosbury hailed after death at 76

Olympic high jump champion Dick Fosbury, who revolutionised the event with a radically different jumping technique that was eventually named after him, died on Sunday aged 76, his agent Ray Schulte said on Monday (Tuesday AEDT).

Fosbury won gold in the high jump at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where he jumped back first to clear the bar, a technique that has since been named the ‘Fosbury Flop’ and used by all high jumpers today.

Dick Fosbury at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a brief recurrence of lymphoma,” Schulte wrote on Instagram.

“The track and field legend is survived by his wife Robin Tomasi, son Erich Fosbury and stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps … and Kristin Thompson.”

The straddle or scissor jump were common techniques in the high jump. But when foam matting was introduced to break the athletes’ fall, Fosbury used his new technique for the first time on the world stage.

The American set a then-Olympic record of 2.24 metres to take the gold and change the sport forever, with more and more athletes attempting the back-first jump as the technique gradually gained acceptance.

“Yesterday, one of the most famous figures in the high jump passed away,” said Amelie Oudea-Castera, France’s minister of sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Dick Fosbury had revolutionised the practice of this sport with his sublime audacity. Thoughts to his loved ones.”

Fosbury’s gold and his contribution to the sport also earned him a spot in the US National Track and Field Hall of Fame.


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