Dick Fosbury – the man who revolutionized the high jump in athletics – has died aged 76.
The American jumped backwards over the bar to win gold at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 in a technique known as the “Fosbury Flop” and used by high jumpers today.
At the Games, Fosbury set a record of 2.24 meters using his method.
Writing on Instagram, Fosbury agent Ray Schulte said his client died on Sunday.
“It is with very heavy hearts that I must announce the news that longtime friend and client, Dick Fosbury, passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a short battle with recurrent lymphoma,” wrote Schulte.
“Dick will be sorely missed by his friends and fans around the world. A true legend and a friend to all.”
Fosbury began experimenting with the “flop” in school and, encouraged by his coaches, had all but perfected it by the time he was in higher education.
In the 1968 Olympic high jump final, the 6-foot-5 athlete cleared 2.24m on his third attempt to win the gold medal.
“He forever changed an entire event with a technique that seemed crazy at the time, but the result made it the norm,” said the four-time U.S. Olympic champion and Michael Johnson, BBC specialist.
Fosbury is survived by his wife Robin Tomasi, his son Erich and his stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps and Kristin Thompson.
“Our sport has lost a true legend and innovator with the passing of Dick Fosbury,” said the USA Track and Field (USATF).
“He invented the ‘Fosbury Flop’, won gold at the 1968 Games and was a lifelong advocate for athletes. Fosbury’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”
USATF General Manager Max Siegel said he was “deeply saddened” by Fosbury’s passing and called him “a true legend and trailblazer in the world of athletics.”
He added: “We will always be grateful for his contributions to the sport and his impact on the generations of athletes who followed in his footsteps.
“Dick will be deeply missed, but his legacy will remain an inspiration to all.”