Dick Fosbury Dies: High Jumper Who Invented ‘Fosbury Flop’ Was 76

Dick Fosbury at Tribeca Film Festival
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

Legendary athlete Dick Fosbury, who enthralled TV viewers during the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, where he won the Gold in the high jump, has died. He was 76.

Fosbury’s passing was confirmed by his publicist Ray Schulte on Monday (March 13), who wrote on Instagram, “It is with a very heavy heart I have to release the news that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a short bout with a recurrence of lymphoma.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Schulte Sports (@ray_schulte)

Recognized as one of the most influential athletes in track and field history, the Gold medalist turned heads at the 1968 Olympics when he showcased his signature “Fosbury Flop,” where he would run diagonally towards the bar in the high jump and throw himself over back first. His impressive technique broke Olympic and US records, earning a gold medal with a jump of 2.24 meters.

After returning to the U.S. following his Olympics victory, Fosbury made appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Mike Douglas Show. And that same year, the “flop” helped Fosbury win the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships. The move soon became the adopted approach of high jump athletes around the world.

Fosbury never returned to the Olympics, but he continued to be involved in athletics after retirement, serving on the executive board of the World Olympians Association. In 1981, he was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

During his medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics, Fosbury showed solidarity with the earlier civil rights protest at the games by raising his fist after the national anthem. And, in 2014, he ran as a Democrat for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives, though he lost out to incumbent Republican Representative Steve Miller.

He also founded the non-profit organization World Fit with fellow Olympians Gary Hall and Anne Cribbs. The company promotes youth fitness programs and Olympic ideals.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dick Fosbury, a true legend and pioneer in the world of track and field. Dick’s innovative technique of the ‘Fosbury Flop’ revolutionized the high jump event and forever changed the sport,” Max Siegel, CEO of USA Track & Field said in a statement (via CNN).

“His gold medal victory at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics not only cemented his place in U.S. Olympic history, but also left an indelible mark on the global athletic community. We will always be grateful for his contributions to the sport and his impact on generations of athletes who followed in his footsteps.”

Check out more tributes below.