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High Jump's 'Fosbury Flop' Has Roots In Northwest

Tom Banse


A two-time Olympic champion from Beaverton, Oregon will be the flag bearer for Team USA during Friday's Opening Ceremony at the London Games. U.S. team captains chose fencer Mariel Zagunis for the honor.

Meanwhile, one of the fans cheering the athletes on will be another Northwesterner who revolutionized the high jump.

Today's technique for clearing the high jump bar is called the "Fosbury Flop." It's named for Dick Fosbury, who invented the unusual style in 1963 in southern Oregon.

The standard high jump at the time was an upright straddle of the bar. But this Medford High School sophomore became competitive with an arching, backwards flop.

The new way hit the big time at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Fosbury recalled the Mexico City Games in a recent video for the U.S. Olympic Team.

"I'd run to the bar. Once I went over the bar, the stadium erupted. So I knew I had their attention," Fosbury said. "There were lots of 'oohs and ahhs' and laughter. It was different."

It was also gold medal winning. Dick Fosbury went on to found an engineering company in Ketchum, Idaho where he lives today.

At the 2012 Games, a high jumper from Eugene named Jesse Williams will use a refined version of the Fosbury Flop, hoping to bring home another Olympic gold.

On the Web:

Team USA Video: Dick Fosbury and the Fosbury Flop:

USA Track & Field Hall of Fame - Dick Fosbury:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network