how the american athlete revolutionized the high jump

how the american athlete revolutionized the high jump

In 1968, Dick Fosbury won Olympic gold at the Mexico City Olympics, jumping 2.24 meters using a new technique.

He chose to turn his back on standards and instructions, and, thanks to that, reached the heights. American athlete Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized the high jump with a technique that took his name, died on Sunday March 12 from complications from lymphoma, his agent announced. The Olympic champion in the discipline in Mexico City in 1968 was 76 years old.

Few athletes have left their name to a figure in their sport. soccer has the panenka, figure skating and gymnastics have several figures bearing the name of their inventor – such as the axel, for example –; but in athletics, the “fosbury” is unique, and has ended up conquering all the jumpers in the world.

Born in Portland, Oregon – a state in the northwest of the United States, the birthplace of Nike in particular – in 1947, Richard “Dick” Fosbury had nothing to do with an inventor, determined to revolutionize science and technology. technique of his sport after having meticulously studied the slightest parameter. If the one who “loved games, numbers, building” later became an engineer, “This whole thing is just an accident”, he repeated at will when he was asked to rewind the establishment of his technique – often, before a new Olympic Games. An unexpected misunderstanding, a story of a kid ready to do anything to win. “The goal was not to invent anythinghe assured The Team in 2012. I developed this new technique when I was jumping because I didn’t want to lose. »

At 16, the young man is part of the athletics team at his high school in Medford, in southern Oregon, but does not stand out. The one who had not made the football and basketball teams at his high school often said that he was then the worst high jumper in his school, if not in Oregon. Practicing the scissor, an already obsolete technique consisting of approaching the bar from the front and passing one leg after the other, the tall young man – he will reach 1.93 m – reaches a ceiling. His trainer ordered him to do the ventral roll, a technique in vogue at the time, involving rolling the obstacle laterally, horizontally. Fosbury complies… but regresses.

Frustrated, he decides one day to do as he pleases. After his run-up, he comes with his back to the bar and rolls it up. Improving his personal best by 15 centimeters that day, he did it again the following weeks, and forced his coach to accept his new technique. Giving the impression of being lying during his jump, the young athlete caught the eye of a few photographers, who quickly captioned the image: “The laziest high jumper in the world”.

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