Dick Fosbury- The Man Who Changed High Jump at Olympics Forever

Published 07/12/2021, 4:18 AM EDT


The Olympics witness some of the best athletes around the world compete to determine the best and while rules may be simple for each sport, the technique is something that is crucial to victory. Athletes have adopted various techniques over the year to get the best possible edge over opponents and maximize their chances of winning. But what if the technique was so good, it changed the face of the sport itself. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The year was 1968 and the Olympics headed to Mexico. While the rest of the events proceeded normally, everyone’s attention was drawn to the high jump event that saw a peculiar technique go all the way. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

At the time, athletes were using the standard method of jumping over the bar with the front food forwards, and although the original trend had been modified quite a bit, everyone had their front towards the pole or even sideways. That was until Dick Fosbury decided to stamp his name in the history books. 

A Civil Engineering student from the USA, he participated in the Olympics to try out a new technique he invented using the skills he had calculated in order to get maximum height off the jump and from the arch of the body. 

Dick Fosbury effortlessly cleared heights over and over again

Fosbury stepped in, made the run-up, and rather than jump forward, he moved sideways and jumped with his back towards the pole, achieving a slender air time clear off the bar! The 21-year old manage to do this time and time again and managed to beat out the competition in fellow American Ed Caruthers, and the Soviet Union’s Valentin Gavrilov. 

Gavrilov crashed out when the bar was at 2.20m and Caruthers couldn’t make it past 2.24, but Fosbury flew his way to the gold medal by executing yet another flawless and clean jump. He walked away with the Olympic Gold, and never returned to the event! 

However, his technique was used massively by athletes after 1968. The ‘Fosbury Flop’ clearly became the best out of all techniques and is now the only way athletes jump over the bar. 

Fosbury was never one for the public eye ahead of the Olympics

It is quite amusing to think that Dick Fosbury, who once couldn’t even jump over a chair, participated in the Olympic Games to try out an experimental technique, walked away with the gold medal and never returned. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The surprise in Fosbury was that he was never in the public eye. Even before the Olympic Games, he did not attend any public meets, signings, or even the opening ceremony. Instead, he spent the evening staring at the sunset in a van, while visiting the pyramids! 

When he stepped up, he entered a nobody but left as the gold medallist. That may have just been as close to ‘came, saw, conquered’ as anyone would ever get. Although he never took part in another edition of the Olympics, Dick Fosbury left his eternal mark on the sport, revolutionizing it completely in his wake. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

DIVE DEEPER

What Are the Rules of the High Jump Event to Be Held at the Tokyo Olympics 2021?

18 days ago

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Luke Dias

1457 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT