16 May 2009
A selection of British athletes and coaches were treated to a once in a life time opportunity to meet high jump legend Dick Fosbury at Loughborough University on Saturday 16May, at an event put on by UKA.
Olympic gold medallist Fosbury, who revolutionized high jumping by inventing a back-first technique now known as the Fosbury Flop, spent the afternoon talking about his amazing career to the trilled audience who use his method every day.
62 year old Fosbury, who was born in Portland USA, said: “It’s been really fun talking with these young athletes and working with their coaches because everywhere I go people have questions about technique and ask about guidance. I’m not a coach but I was a jumper, I was an athlete so I can explain to the athletes what it feels like to be in the proper position and speak to the coaches about technique.
“I hopefully want to inspire them. It’s been a great day, I really admire what the British team is doing and wish them all the luck in the world in 2012.”
Fosbury, who began to develop his technique at 16 years old and was the only athlete to use it during the Olympic Games in Mexico where he won a gold medal in 1968, highlighted flaws in his style to the audience showing that any technique is a working process: “I didn’t use my arm to drive. These days they use one or two arms to drive and transfer momentum. Also the head is now pushed all the way back to promote an extreme arch. ”
The audience also heard from Olympic high jump silver medallist and ex world record holder Dorothy Tyler, who won a silver medal at the last London Olympic Games which was held in 1948. Now 89 years old, she spoke to the audience in Loughborough about life as an athlete pre and post the second World War.
Tyler set countless British and World records using the scissor technique and joked with Fosbury that she had lost those titles because of him.
She said: “I have had a lovely day meeting these athletes and coaches. They should all be greatful to come to places like this with good facilities and have coaches. I never had that. I used to train on a Sunday morning with no coach, and then turn up at competitions and just jump. I never had a run up marked or anything, I didn’t know how.”
Top high jump coach Terry Lomax, who is based at the UKA High Performance Centre at Loughborough University, took his training group to the event. He said: “He’s a legend, there’s not alot of people who have a technique named after themselves so to meet a true legend of the sport is quite amazing.
“He spoke about where he came from and how the event evolved and how his technique evolved. It seems almost straight forward, the process of how he came to be where he was. It’s very interesting, I have met him before and the first thing I did was to thank him for not having to do the straddle high jump as an athlete myself! I think there is quite a few people doing high jump now who wouldn’t be doing it if he hadn’t invented the Fosbury Flop.”
Interviews and behind the scenes footage from the Dick Fosbury Day will be available to view on Monday 18 May on UKA:TV.