The Fosbury Flop

Dick Fosbury, the man who literally transformed the sport of high jumping with his unique ‘flop’ method, died today. The above video details how the method of high jumping that he introduced in the 1968 Mexico Olympics transformed the sport and quickly became the ‘de facto’ method and style of high jumping to this day.

The technique has been compared to a corpse being pushed out of a window. Like Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling, Fosbury’s flopping struck many onlookers as residing somewhere between a physical feat and a joke. At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, the crowd oohed, aahed and laughed watching Fosbury compete.

But the last laugh was his: The high-jump bar kept being raised, and Fosbury kept clearing it. He finally executed a Fosbury Flop at 7 feet 4¼ inches — earning him not just the gold medal, but an Olympic record at the time.

NY Times

What is most interesting is that Fosbury was an engineering student and took a mathematical, problem solving approach to his sport, with the end result being his innovative flop method. What is most bizarre in this video – primarily because the “Fosbury Flop” is so common today – is the footage of how high jumpers used to do high jumping. They would go feet first – which makes zero sense when looking at that method in the year 2023.

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