By Ray Schulte, Schulte Sports Marketing & Public Relations
One of the most influential and recognized athletes in the history of track and field, Dick Fosbury introduced his back-first approach to the high jump at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.
With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, I asked Fosbury about his historic accomplishments and what he is up to today.
Dick Fosbury: I never imagined that my technique could become the universal style. I was pretty amazed the first time I saw another jumper, Debby Brill, using the technique in Vancouver in 1966. That was an eye-opener, so I thought that a few jumpers could benefit with this. But I never imagined it would be global.
RS: In 1968, representing the United States, you won the gold medal in the high jump. Did that change your life dramatically?
DF: Yes, of course. First, it gave me confidence in my abilities. But more importantly, I realized that following a program, staying focused on the goals, could enable anyone to realize their potential. Looking back, sport gave me the opportunity to try; sometimes we miss, but with determination, we have a chance. Winning at the Olympic Games brought me fame and global name recognition, with invitations to travel around the world and meet many fascinating people.
RS: What motivated you to create track camps and clinics for young athletes?
DF: Ever since I returned home from the '68 Olympic Games, I was asked to speak about creating the Fosbury Flop and assist others in learning this method. One- and two-day clinics were fun, but I saw a better opportunity when I was invited to attend my first camp by my partner, coach Peter Slovenski. It's a perfect environment for young athletes to spend four or five days with an expert in their event. And I enjoy telling stories of both success and failure -- the lessons we all learn in sports.
RS: As one of track and field's great international ambassadors, are you planning to attend the 2012 London Olympics? If so, in what capacity?
DF: Yes, I'll be there to enjoy the gathering of the fittest athletes on the planet. I'll be making personal appearances for Adidas, BP and other sponsors, and a new company called Wikipad. While I enjoy the different sights and sounds in London, I'll be tweeting
(@DickFosbury1) my daily experiences to share with others.
RS: You and Bob Beamon attended the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago last year as featured signature guests. What was your impression?
DF: Yes, Bob and I were invited to sign at the National with other high-profile athletes from football, baseball, basketball and hockey. We were very impressed with the many track and field fans and collectors who came out to get our autographs and say hello.
RS: Were you a collector of sports or entertainment memorabilia growing up in Portland, Ore.?
DF: Yes, indirectly. I collected coins and stamps -- the stamps taught me about the different countries, and coins taught me about the qualities of collectibles. I never really could imagine that someday my image would be printed on stamps in foreign countries.
Follow Ray @ twitter.com/SchulteSports and e-mail him at Ray@SchulteSports.com.
Issue 174: June 2012