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Dick Fosbury Returns to Medford to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Gold Medal

Dick Fosbury reflects on how his Medford upbringing was put into perspective upon winning a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 11:12 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 11:59 PM

MEDFORD—The 1968 Olympic Games were revolutionary in more ways than one.

There was the John Carlos-Tommie Smith Black Power salute, as well as Dick Fosbury flipping the high jump world on its head with his now-famous Fosbury flop.

You know the story of Fosbury zigging when every other high jumper zagged.

But until Bob Welch released “The Wizard of Foz,” you haven't heard his untold story.

It came to fruition Wednesday night with Fosbury in town, signing copies of the newly released biography.

"I don't think that people know the real story," said author Bob Welch. "I think that people oversimplify. Guy couldn't jump, guy invents a style, guy wins gold medal, but there's so much more to it."

In the book, Fosbury opens up about his childhood in Medford and the death of his younger brother, Greg, who, while on a bike ride with Dick, was hit and killed by a drunk driver.

Fosbury's parents separated a year later.

"I think Dick was looking for a place to belong and at that point, at age 15 or 16, the Medford High track team was that place, but only if he could stay on the team," Welch said. "He was a terrible high jumper, one of the worst in the state."

So Fosbury invented what's known today as the Fosbury Flop--a revolutionary arched back, reverse approach that eventually launched him to second place in the state, and a spot on the team at Oregon State.

Despite his collegiate coach trying to convince him to adopt a different approach, Fosbury made it to the 1968 Olympic Games with his unique technique fine tuned.

Cec Morris-Garrett went to go watch, making the trip from Medford to Mexico City.

She knew what to make of Fosbury, but no one else was able to.

"Because he had such a different style people were really curious about Dick but we had followed him enough that we knew what was going on," she said.

Fosbury won the gold medal with a record breaking jump of 7 feet, 4 1/4 inches.

His mind went back to where it all began.

"Seeing the flag, listening to the national anthem, it connected me back home," he said.

A connection to home is what made Wednesday night special--Fosbury grateful for his roots on the 50th anniversary of the jump that put them in perspective.

"It's been a blessing and it's a responsibility and it's highly rewarding so I enjoy it," he said.

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