Richard douglas (Dick) Fosbury, a name not so famous, yet considered to be one of the most influential figures in track and field athletes. Dick was a high jumper in school and college and started competing in school and collegiate athletics.
He never qualified for the event of high jump due to his body not being able to adapt to the straddle or scissor method of jumping. A face down position over the bar followed by individual pulling of legs over the bar making it a difficult scenario for the 6’4 guy.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, Fosbury started adapting to new and better positions in the high jump. Failures came first and the early attempts at perfecting a new technique rattled Fosbury, garnering him some laughs along the way.
A meticulous Fosbury though never paid any heed to these comments and eventually completed his technique. During the final year, he could produce much better jumps and astounding results. The world was in for a treat.
Fosbury’s new technique required him to land on the back and so he did on a softer mattress fully capable of absorbing the weight. The jump he used to perform required him to turn his body backwards while jumping going over the bar and then thrusting his legs upwards to complete the jump.
Change doesn’t take place easily, some resistance met him when his coaches advocated the straddle method but results could not be better for Fosbury when he broke the high school record in 1963 jumping at 6 ft 3 inches. The technique was named the Fosbury flop as it was seen by the public as a “fish flopping in a boat”.
In college, Fosbury was the first one to win consecutive high jump titles and was qualified for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico city. Fosbury flop during the Olympics was quickly accepted and praised eventually leading him to gold medal for jumping at 2.24meters on his 3rd attempt.
Taking into consideration the lanky and not a certain athletic physique of Fosbury, the flop still made him won the gold medal and revolutionized the high jump forever. A certain aspect still intrigues me if he were to train much harder on his physique and certain components of the flop, he could have demolished the 5-year record of valeriy brumel who jumped at 2.29meters and Fosbury missed.
The world since has never seen anything else other than the Fosbury flop in high jump. Dick never participated in any other olympic games but his reputation and legacy live on forever.