Up-and-Over Achiever

Dick Fosbury does the Fosbury Flop during his high-jumping heyday.

The most famous invention in Jackson County's history was a flop.

The Fosbury Flop, that is, created by Medford Senior High School high jumper Dick Fosbury in 1963.

The athlete began tinkering with his traditional scissors technique while in high school in an attempt to better his jump that never went above 5 feet 4 inches.

So he began experimenting, eventually coming up with a new jump in which he rolled over the bar backwards and head first. On a spring day in 1963 at the Grants Pass Rotary meet, Fosbury cleared 5 feet 10 inches with his new technique.

"I just wanted to stay in the game," recalled Fosbury, now retired in Ketchum, Idaho, in a 2005 interview with the Mail Tribune. "I made a new style of jumping in order to become competitive."

Two years later he soared to 6 feet 7 inches at a national high school meet in Houston, earning him a scholarship to Oregon State University where he would graduate with an engineering degree. Before he retired from jumping, he won three Pacific-8 championships, two NCAA titles and a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, where he cleared 7 feet 41/2 inches.

Now, there is hardly a high jumper in the world today who doesn't use the Fosbury Flop.

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