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Dick Fosbury

Photo of Dick Fosbury

Inducted: 1981, athlete

Born: March 6, 1947 - Portland, Oregon

Events
High Jump - 2.24 m


As a high schooler in Medford, Ore., Dick Fosbury revolutionized the high jump when he developed a new technique that quickly became known as "the Fosbury Flop." The technique worked so well that Fosbury improved by one foot in high school -- from 5' 3 3/4" to 6' 3 3/4" -- after he first tried the "flop," which involving going over the bar headfirst and backward, with one's body horizontal to the ground. Great things were in store for him. At Oregon State University, Fosbury first cleared 7' during the 1968 indoor season and became a surprise winner at the Mexico City Olympics by clearing 7' 4 1/4" for Olympic and American records. Fosbury's experiments began with him using the antiquated jump style called the "scissors," until his high school coach pressed him to use the "straddle," or "belly roll," which was then the high-jumping norm. Failing to master the straddle, Fosbury reverted to a scissors, then modified by going over the bar backward. The "flop" was born. A two-time national collegiate champion, Fosbury made his record jump in Mexico City on his third attempt. He was top ranked in the world following his 1968 victory and in 1969 won the NCAA title before placing second in the National AAU meet. After he failed to make the 1972 Olympic team, he became a professional in 1973. He was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992. After several years of controversy over whether the "Fosbury Flop" was safe, it became the standard jumping technique worldwide. Fosbury often gave clinics for young athletes, in which he explained that the "flop" involved landing safely on one's shoulders, not one's neck, as was commonly feared.

Records Held
Olympic Record: High Jump - 2.24 m (October 20, 1968 - )
American Record: High Jump - 2.24 m (October 20, 1968 - )

Championships
1968 Olympics: High Jump - 2.24 m (1st)
1969 AAU: High Jump (2nd)
1969 NCAA: High Jump (1st)

Education
high school: Medford (Medford, Oregon), 1965
undergraduate: Oregon State (Corvallis, Oregon), 1969

Occupations
Engineer

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