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Dick Fosbury is no flop, considering the man who changed the High Jump forever!

Dick Fosbury is no flop, considering the man who changed the High Jump forever!

Dick Fosbury changed the high jump forever with a technique that he developed from 1965 to 1968. Stuart Weir met Dick and interviewed him in 2011 at the Daegu World Champs in the adidas HQ. He revised this story in 2020.

Dick Fosbury died, in his sleep, on Sunday, March 12, 2023. He was 76. Your editor met Dick Fosbury for the first time in 1996 and then saw him at various events, including Daegu 2011. Dick Fosbury was always thoughtful, a man with a ready smile and a good quote or observation for a journalist. 

This piece, from Stuart Weir, helps the reader appreciate the absolute paradigm change that Mr. Fosbury brought to our sport. 

At the 2011 World Champs, Dick Fosbury and Blanka Vlasic spoke to the media about the high jump. It was one of those magical moments. 


Dick Fosbury is no flop.

The sad death of Dick Fosbury made me reflect on meeting him at an adidas reception in Daegu, Korea, in 2011.    How many other athletes – even multi-medal winners – can claim to have changed the face of their sport?   Fosbury is still seen as the man who changed the high jump forever. All the quotes in this article are from that 2011 event.

Blanka Vlasic and Dick Fosbury, Daegu 2011, WC, photo by Stuart Weir

The paradox of Dick Fosbury is that he competed only in one Olympics.  The 1968 Olympic champion failed to make the USA team for the 1972 Games, and his career was over effectively – winning the gold medal in 1968.  Yet over 50 years later, one can say that Dick Fosbury literally changed the high jump forever.

Dick Fosbury was born in 1947.  Growing up in the state of Oregon, track and field was a popular sport.  He recalls: “In track and field, our teacher had us try every event, so I ran, threw, and I jumped. And he taught me to high jump using the Western roll, where the jumper ran at the bar with a straight approach and aimed their arm and leg at the bar to go over belly first and land in the pit -which was the standard technique at the time. 

“The other technique that he taught us was the scissors, where you run at the bar and clear the bar with your seat while your legs did a scissor kick over it. For me, this was a simple technique. And, of course, in those days, you were landing in sawdust or wood chips, even if that was a technological advance on the sand. So the landing was as important as clearing the bar so that you survived the jump! But as things improved, the wood chip was a good environment for…

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