‘Fosbury Flop’! Olympic Gold High Jump Winner, Dick Fosbury Dies at 76!
(AP) Dick Fosbury, the lanky leaper who completely revamped the technical discipline of the high jump and won an Olympic gold medal with his “Fosbury Flop,” has died at age 76 after a recurrence of lymphoma. Fosbury died Sunday, according to his publicist, Ray Schulte. Before Fosbury, some high jumpers cleared their height by running parallel to the bar, then leaping over with a scissors kick, with their faces pointed downward.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Fosbury took off at an angle, leaped backward, and bent himself into a “J” shape to catapult his 6-foot-4 frame over the bar. 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.
RIP TO THE FOSBURY FLOP: A Tribute To Fosbury and his Yakima Adventure (by Jack Balzer)
As I was going through today's sports stories to share with you, I was saddened by the news of the passing of an original free thinker of an Olympic athlete. Dick Fosbury, the inventor of the famous "Fosbury Flop" was my hero when it came to track and field. This story took me back in time twice on a summer afternoon in 2009.
MY GOLDEN MEMORY WITH A GOLD MEDALIST
I happened to get a call to be the fill-in fourth on the Parker Youth and Sports Foundation golf tournament at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima. The planets had to be in line for the day to happen. It started with the phone call to fill in playing golf and then finding out that I was in the group with Seattle Mariners' Pitching Coach Mel Stottlmyre Sr. (Yes, my mouth dropped). My game was on fire (compared to it normally), had a nice conversation with Mel. We ended up where lunch was being served.
Mel was catching up with some old friends and I sat down at an empty table to eat. I was joined by a tall gentleman, who was waiting for his golf friends to join him. I looked at the program flyer and notice the name of Yakima's Willie Turner, who starred in track and field at Davis High School, and Oregon State University. "That's pretty cool," I said aloud.
MEETING THE OLYMPIC LEGEND IN YAKIMA
Then I saw the name of Dick Fosbury. I just said "WOW" Dick Fosbury! I hope he is here, I've got to meet him. (Wait for it, you know it's coming) The gentleman asks why. I told him about how I couldn't clear the bar in the high jump during P.E. when I was at Wapato Junior High. I tried to do the "Flop" which the teacher didn't want us to do. But I did and cleared the bar at 5 feet. So I owe him at least a thank you. He said, "Oh, I am sorry. I forget to ask you your name. I said it is Jack Balzer. He said it is very nice to meet you, Jack. and a big smile. My name is Dick Fosbury.
That was a golden afternoon spending time with an Olympian Gold Medalist that influenced thousands. Somewhere in my collection of memorabilia is a program with an autograph of Dick Fosbury.
Read the tribute from Oregon State University here.