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 1968 Mexico Olympics in a technique that became known as the “Fosbury Flop” and is used by high jumpers today.
At the Games, Fosbury set a then record of 2.24 meters with his method.
Fosbury’s agent Ray Schulte posted on Instagram saying his client had died on Sunday.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I must release the news that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a brief bout with a relapse of lymphoma,” Schulte wrote.
“Dick will be greatly missed by friends and fans from all over the world. A true legend and friend to all.”
Fosbury began experimenting with the “flop” at school and, encouraged by his coaches, had almost perfected it by the time he entered higher education.
In the 1968 Olympic high jump final, the 6ft 5in athlete cleared 2.24m on his third attempt to win the gold.
“He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time, but the result made it the standard,” said the four-time American Olympic champion and BBC pundit Michael Johnson.
Fosbury is survived by his wife Robin Tomasi, son Erich and stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps and Kristin Thompson.
“Our sport lost a true legend and innovator with the passing of Dick Fosbury.” said USA Track and Field (USATF).
“He invented the ‘Fosbury flop’, was a gold medalist at the 1968 Games and remained an advocate for athletes throughout his life. Fosbury’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”
USATF CEO Max Siegel said he was “deeply saddened” by Fosbury’s passing, calling him a “true legend and pioneer in the world of athletics.”
He added: “We will always be grateful for his contribution to the sport and his impact on generations of athletes who followed in his footsteps.
“Dick will be deeply missed but his legacy will live on as an inspiration to all.”