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50 years already? Fosbury to visit

Hometown hero Dick Fosbury will return to Medford in a couple weeks as the 50th anniversary of his record-setting Olympic glory is celebrated.

On Oct. 19, 1968, the Medford High graduate won the gold medal at the Mexico City Games, using a technique he developed, the Fosbury Flop, that has become the universal method for clearing the high-jump bar.

A book about Fosbury, “The Wizard of Foz,” was released early last month.

Author Bob Welch will join Fosbury in Medford for a book signing and reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Rogue Regency Inn and Suites. Earlier in the day, Fosbury will speak at a meeting of the Medford Rogue Rotary.

Two days later, a statue of Fosbury will be unveiled at Oregon State in Corvallis, where he was a three-time Pac-8 champion and two-time national champion prior to obtaining a degree in civil engineering.

The statue is of Fosbury going over a bar. It was done by Ellen Tykeson.

He’ll be introduced a day later at Oregon State’s football game against California.

Fosbury was a sophomore in 1963 when, in a desperate attempt to stay on the Medford High track team and improve in the high jump, he modified his scissors style during the Grants Pass Rotary meet with the beginnings of what is now the Flop.

He went from the self-proclaimed worst jumper in Oregon to being the state runner-up by graduation.

In the midst of his Oregon State career, he made it through two Olympic Trials, joined one of the strongest track and field teams the U.S. has assembled and set the world abuzz with a triumphant jump of 7 feet, 4 1/4 inches, breaking the Olympic and American records.

Fosbury returned to OSU, won his second national title as a junior and earned his degree in 1972.

He’s lived in Idaho since the mid-70s, operating his own engineering firm and taking speaking and coaching engagements around the world.

Fosbury is president of the U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association and is involved in local government.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com

Dick Fosbury tells the story of his Olympic journey Thursday at the Southern oregon sports Commission Awards. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]