Dick Fosbury, an Olympic gold medalist high jumper known for revamping the sport’s technical discipline, died Sunday, his publicist said. He was 76 years old.
Fosbury died after a recurrence of lymphoma, his publicist Ray Schulte said.
The Oregon native was known for introducing the «Fosbury Flop» to the high jump world. At the 1968 Olympics, he used the revolutionary movement to win a gold medal over fellow American Ed Caruthers and Valeriy Skvortsov of the Soviet Union.
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By the next Olympic Games, 28 of the 40 jumpers were using the technique. The 1976 Olympics became the final Games in which an athlete would win using a technique other than the «Fosbury Flop.» Before the Fosbury move became the norm, high jumpers would jump over the bar by running parallel to the bar, then use an open kick to jump up before landing face down.
«World legend is probably used too often,» Olympic legend Michael Johnson tweeted. «Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that seemed crazy at the time, but the result made it the standard.»
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Fosbury began dabbling in technique as a high school athlete in Oregon. He took off at an angle, jumped back, folded into a «J» to catapult over the bar and crash into the landing pit.
«I knew I had to change the position of my body, and that’s what started the revolution first and, for the next two years, evolution,» Fosbury told The Corvallis Gazette-Times in 2014. «During my junior year, I continued with this new technique, and in each competition I continued to evolve or change, but I was getting better. My results were getting better.»
Fosbury’s technique was initially criticized, as he was described as looking like a fish floating in a boat. But he liked the name «Fosbury Flop».
«It’s poetic. It’s alliterative. It’s a conflict,» he previously said.
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Fosbury was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1981.
Associated Press contributed to this report.