Dick Fosbury, Olympic champion who revolutionized high jump, dies at 76 – Home of the Olympic Channel

Dick Fosbury, who won the 1968 Olympic high jump title using a new, back-first high jump technique known as the Fosbury Flop, died Sunday morning at age 76.
Fosbury died peacefully after a short bout with a recurrence of lymphoma, according to Schulte Sports Marketing & Public Relations, which had represented him.
Fosbury was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
Fosbury began working on his “flop” high jump technique as a high school sophomore in Medford, Oregon, and had it fully developed by graduation.
“I converted the old ‘scissors’ style, where a jumper would hurdle over the bar, and their legs would do a scissor kick,” he said in a 2017 interview for the NBC Sports film “1968” on the Mexico City Olympics. “I changed that style and modernized it to make it more efficient.”
He said he first used it an April 1963 meet, soon after turning 16 years old.
“Up until that time, my coach had been trying to teach me to use the straddle technique. My results were terrible. I was the worst guy in the entire district in the high jump,” Fosbury said. “I improved a half a foot that day just by changing my body position from sitting over the bar into a back layout.”
In the mid-1960s, Fosbury estimated that 95% of high jumpers used the western roll or straddle technique, where an athlete would throw an arm and a leg over the bar and go over on their belly.
“When we first saw him [doing the flop], we were saying, ‘Oh man, what a nutcase here with this guy,’” 1968 Olympic silver medalist Ed Caruthers said in 2017. “I’ve seen some unorthodox styles of jumping before, and none of them panned out.”
Happy birthday to Dick Fosbury, the man who changed high jump forever. 💪 @DickFosbury1 pic.twitter.com/4tWfsZ4NYj
— The Olympic Games (@Olympics) March 6, 2023

The term “Fosbury Flop” was coined by the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper, which ran the caption, “Fosbury flops over the bar,” according to “The Wizard of Foz,” a 2018 book that Fosbury co-wrote.
Fosbury said he was the only person doing the flop at the 1968 Olympics. He broke the Olympic record with it, clearing 2.24 meters for gold.
“When we were going for a medal, the crowd was completely silent and focused on my attempts each time that I jumped,” Fosbury said. “That was the best day of my life.
“The crowd loved [the flop]. The coaches hated it. Especially the ones that had adopted the straddle and really worked to train and coach their athletes to use it. So they didn’t like some guy coming in with something that was different and beat them.”
The technique has since become standard in the event.
“I introduced the entire world to a different way to clear the bar,” Fosbury said.
A statue depicting Fosbury performing his flop was unveiled at Oregon State, his alma mater, in 2018.
Fosbury was part of a legendary 1968 U.S. Olympic track and field team that also included 200m gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, plus gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m relays.
Fosbury Flop.
@BeaverAthletics great Dick Fosbury gets his statue unveiled on campus. pic.twitter.com/nfdarTfnh5
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 19, 2018

Now that Mikaela Shiffrin broke the Alpine skiing World Cup career wins record, plus clinched season titles in the overall, giant slalom and slalom, there may just be one significant, outstanding question for her going into this week’s World Cup Finals.
Is it her best World Cup season ever?
At the World Cup Finals in Andorra, which start with downhills Wednesday, Shiffrin finishes her season with three races: Thursday’s super-G, Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s giant slalom. All of the women’s races, plus Friday’s mixed-gender team parallel event, air live on Peacock.
“In the beginning of the season, if I could scrape by with five [wins] and the overall [season title], that would be, like, out of this world,” Shiffrin said after Saturday’s record-breaking win, her 13th race victory this season. “So I don’t really know what to say about this season.”
2023 Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals Broadcast Schedule
*Delayed broadcast.
The best measure of an Alpine skier’s yearly success is their World Cup points. For each race, a winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through 30th place, which receives one point. At World Cup Finals, where fields are smaller than 30, only the top 15 score points.
Shiffrin has 2,028 points this season, nearly double second-place Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, which allowed her to clinch the overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, two weeks before World Cup Finals.
In 2018-19, Shiffrin’s best season, she scored 2,204 points, the second-highest total in history behind Tina Maze‘s 2,414 from 2012-13. Shiffrin can surpass 2,204 with two wins in three starts this week, or other combinations of strong finishes.
Shiffrin has also said that, at times this season, she has produced the best skiing of her career.
But comparing 2023 to 2019 is not apples to apples. The more one dissects, a stronger case can be made for 2018-19.
In 2018-19, Shiffrin earned 17 World Cup wins, the most by any male or female Alpine skier in one season. She has 13 wins so far this season, so the most that she can finish with is 16.
In 2018-19, there were 35 races. This season, there will be 38, assuming none of the World Cup Finals events get canceled due to weather, meaning more opportunities to accumulate wins and points.
She has 28 starts this season, her most ever. If she wins all three races this week, she will have averaged 75 points per start this season. She had 26 starts in 2018-19, when she averaged nearly 85 points per start.
Shiffrin has talked about the fatigue she felt after 2018-19.
She has been busier this season, but her life changed significantly in the four years in between.
“I guess maybe I’m equally as tired,” as in 2019, she said. “Having done that season, maybe I feel like my capacity for fatigue is higher, but then at the same time. … What I’ve experienced over the last couple years, my understanding of fatigue, it’s completely different. I said I was tired in the 2018-19 season, but that was before I ever experienced not sleeping for three weeks straight [after my father’s death in February 2020].”
In at least one way, she sees a similarity between the two seasons.
“For our team, despite anything that happens, to be able to remain focused on the skiing and sort of the process of still going out every day in training and freeskiing and doing the drills and doing all the things that allow me to possibly win races,” she said. “It’s not 17 [wins], but [13] is a number that I never thought I could get in a single season again in my career.”
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USA Swimming will reward its athletes financially if the Americans sweep all seven relays at this summer’s world championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The program announced Tuesday by the sport’s national governing body involves the men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relays, 4x100m freestyle relays, 4x200m free relays and mixed-gender 4x100m medley relay.
If the U.S. wins all seven of these relays at the world meet in Fukuoka, Japan, in July, all the pool and open-water world team members will split $500,000. If the Americans finish first, second or third in all the relays, they will split $150,000.
At the Paris Olympics, if the U.S. sweeps the relays, all the swimmers will split $1 million. If the team earns a medal in every relay, the athletes will share $250,000.
“This is an unprecedented incentive program with the ultimate goal of extraordinary relay success,” national team managing director Lindsay Mintenko said. ”While many might see swimming as an individual sport, we at USA Swimming know that a team focus is the very core of our success. We have a proud tradition in Olympic and World Championship relays, and we hope to foster that culture and camaraderie in the next wave of athletes.”
To qualify for a relay at the Olympics, a country needs to finish in the top three at the world championships. The other way in is to post a top-13 time among countries in combined results from this summer’s world meet and the February 2024 Worlds in Qatar.
The U.S. won two of the seven relays at the Tokyo Olympics, its fewest relay titles since 1956, when there were two relays on the Olympic program.
It last swept the Olympic relays in 1996, when there were six.
It won five of eight relays at the 2022 World Championships.
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