Fosbury manager Ray Schulte reported on Monday that the athlete had died a day early from the effects of a form of cancer. “It is with profound sadness that I must announce that my friend and one of the most influential athletes in track and field history passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday morning after a brief battle with recurring lymphoma. Dick will be greatly missed by friends and fans around the world. A true legend and a friend to all.”
The high jumper developed his technique in the 1960s, while still in school, in which he first jumped in an arc over the bar after running with his shoulders. Prior to this time, high jumpers jumped with a roll jump, the so-called “straddle technique”, with one leg first over the bar. “I knew I had to lift my hips and to do that I had to clear my shoulders. I jumped over 5-foot-10 and improved 6 inches that day,” Fosbury told Athletics Weekly. in 2011.
It wasn’t until 1968 that Fosbury’s new jumping technique came to international notice. After her victory at the college championships, victory followed in the American qualifiers for the Olympic Games. At the Games in Mexico, Fosbury beat teammate Ed Caruthers and Valentin Gavrilov of the Soviet Union with a new Olympic record of 2.24 meters.
“I was lucky enough to be able to contribute to the sport, but I had no intention of doing so,” Fosbury said. “It was not my intention to change roles. I knew my technique was my path to success. I had this technique, which belonged only to me.” At the 1968 Games, Fosbury was the only one to jump this way. At the following Games in 1972 in Munich, 28 of the 40 participants had adopted his way of jumping. “After winning the gold medal, I thought one or two high jumpers would take over my technique. I once thought that would become the universal way of high jumping.”
“Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar.”