By Eddie Pells | Associated Press

Dick Fosbury, the lanky leaper who revamped the technical discipline of high jump and won an Olympic gold medal with his “Fosbury Flop,” has died. He was 76.

Fosbury died Sunday after a recurrence with lymphoma, according to his publicist, Ray Schulte.

Before Fosbury, many high jumpers cleared their heights by running parallel to the bar, then using a straddle kick to leap over before landing with their faces pointed downward. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Fosbury took off at an angle, leaped backward, bent himself into a “J” shape to catapult his 6-foot-4 frame over the bar, then crashed headfirst into the landing pit.

1972: Dick Fosbury of the USA clears the bar in the high jump event at the AAAU Championships, Oregon, USA. Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy/Allsport
Fosbury clears the bar in the high jump event at the AAAU Championships in 1972.F osbury started tinkering with his high-jump technique in the early ’60s as a teenager. Fosbury clears the bar in the high jump event at the AAAU Championships in 1972. Fosbury started tinkering with his high-jump technique in the early ’60s as a teenager. (Tony Duffy/Allsport via Getty Images)

It was a convention-defying move, and with the world watching, Fosbury cleared 2.24 meters (7 feet, 4¼ inches) to win the gold and set an Olympic record. By the next Olympics, 28 of the 40 jumpers were using Fosbury’s technique. The Montreal Games in 1976 marked the last Olympics in which a high jumper won using a technique other than the Fosbury Flop.

“The world legend is probably used too often,” sprint great Michael Johnson tweeted. “Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time but the result made it the standard.”

Over time, Fosbury’s move became about more than simply high jumping. It is often used by business leaders and university professors as a study in innovation and willingness to take chances and break the mold.

“It’s literally genius,” said 2012 Olympic high jump champion Erik Kynard Jr. “And it takes huge courage, obviously. And took huge courage at the time to even consider something so dangerous. Due to the equipment then, it was something that was a little on edge to attempt.”

Fosbury started tinkering with a new technique in the early ’60s, as a teenager at Medford High School in Oregon. Among his discoveries was a need to move his takeoff point farther back for higher jumps, so he could change the apex of the parabola shape of his jump to clear the bar. Most traditional jumpers of that day planted a foot and took off from the same spot regardless of the height they were attempting.

“I knew I had to change my body position, and that’s what started first the revolution, and over the next two years, the evolution,” Fosbury said in a 2014 interview with The Corvallis Gazette-Times. “During my junior year, I carried on with this new technique, and each meet I continued to evolve or change, but I was improving. My results were getting better.”

The technique was the subject of scorn and ridicule in some corners. The term Fosbury Flop is credited to the Medford Mail-Tribune, which wrote the headline “Fosbury Flops Over the Bar” after one of his high school meets. The reporter wrote that Fosbury looked like a fish flopping in a boat.

Fosbury liked “Fosbury Flop.”

“It’s poetic. It’s alliterative. It’s a conflict,” he once said.

In a chapter in his book about the Mexico City Games, journalist Richard Hoffer wrote that Fosbury once received a letter from an LA medical director suggesting his technique would lead to “a rash of broken necks.”

“For the good of young Americans, you should stop this ridiculous attack on the bar,” the letter said.

As a kid, Fosbury threw himself into sports as a way of dealing with the grief after his younger brother, Greg, was killed by a drunken driver while the two boys were riding bikes. Unable to stick with the football or basketball teams, Fosbury tried track but struggled there with the preferred jump of those days — the straddle.

Fosbury’s biographer, Bob Welch, wrote that Fosbury was fine dealing with people ridiculing his style because, to him, it still wasn’t as painful as the sorrow he felt for the loss of his brother.

Innovation won out. Decades later, Fosbury’s flop remains a hit, and his willingness to take a chance remains a lesson from which almost anyone can learn.

“He was as innovative as Henry Ford was to the Model T,” Kynard said. “He’s the creator of what we still do to this day.”

Associated Press Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.

The following article leads one to believe that the first person to experiment and try the flop in competition was a jumper from Missoula, Montana in the early 1960's, though he was a long way from perfection.    His name is Bruce Quande at Flathead County High School.  Here is his story.

The First Flopper?    

And lest we forget Canadian Debbie Brill who developed a similar style called the Brill Bend independently from Dick Fosbury.

See article from Maclean's Magazine by Aaron Hutchins, June 28, 2014:
Debbie Brill

Lying awake last night thinking over events, I remembered that Dick Fosbury once contacted us about a photo on our blog.  Roy and I got a big kick out of his query. George

Richard Fosbury 

Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 12:58 PM
to me
Good afternoon,

My teammate, John Radetich sent me a link to your December post on your blog, which I truly enjoyed!

A minor edit: the HJ was won by Steve Brown from Idaho.

May I ask, where did you obtain that photo of me jumping? I am still finding photos I've never seen, and love to collect them since they were never digitized, just printed.

Thanks for your help and please keep up your writing!

Dick Fosbury
Bellevue ID

George Brose 

Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 2:17 PM
to Roy
This note below will make your freaking day, eh?

George Brose

Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 2:40 PM
to Richard
Thanks for your email, it makes our day if not month or year to get something like that from an Olympic gold medalist.  
To get that picture,  I simply googled your name and when the page opened I went to the top of the page and
clicked on  'Images'.   About two hundred photos of you then appeared on the screen.  I liked this one, right clicked on it
and saved it.  There didn't seem to be anyone claiming ownership.
Could transfer it on the blog quite easily.   The picture appeared on a piece that seems to be a physics 
assignment done in the US, by perhaps an international student.  Some of the syntax seems a bit stilted.  

Here is the link:     Fosbury article/physic class assignment?  Just clik on this and it will open.  For some reason the article
goes directly to my printer, but when I click on 'cancel' the article stays on the screen.  Hope that helps.

If you don't mind, sometime I'd like to call you and do an interview for the blog.  I'm up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Attended U.of Oklahoma as a middle distance runner a bit before your time.  We had 3 seven footers there at one time in the early
60s including Roy HIcks who did 7' with an Eastern Roll.   Okay, too much information already.  
George Brose

Roy Mason 

Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 2:49 PM
to me
My confusion knows no bounds.  We clearly stated that Brown won the HJ and your photo shows him as the winner.  Why does he think otherwise?  That said..............


Hope you straightened him out.

George Brose 

Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 3:01 PM
to Roy
Told him how I found the photo and sent him a link to the article it appeared on and finished by saying I wanted an interview for my troubles.

So Sad that this incredible icons of the sport are keeping you busy. Let's have a break!  Hang in there all of my heroes!  Darryl Taylor