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  • Sports Illustrated Fosbury article

    Hey, we got some T&F coverage here ! Great article on Dick Fosbury, excerpted from Richard Hoffer's book just out, " Something in the Air", all about the Mexico City Olympics.

    I eagerly read it, looking as always for technical errors... and I found one !

    There is a long dialogue on the Final Olympic Trials HJ competition. I quote only the pertinent phrases:

    "Fosbury needed all three tries to make 7'2", at which he joined Olympic veteran Ed Caruthers, high schooler Reynaldo Brown and John Hartfield. But because of misses, Fosbury was in fourth place. Hartfield, without any misses, was in first. .........
    The bar was raised an inch........Caruthers, running ever so slowly, straddled the bar....making it over safely. Brown ....also made it. Hartfield missed. Fosbury corkscrewed over the bar cleanly and came out of the foam pit grinning madly.
    But he hadn't made the team yet.
    ( my emphasis added here ) HARTFIELD COULD STILL CLOSE HIM OUT ON MISSES IF HE MADE THE HEIGHT......Hartfield missed his remaining jumps." ( end of quotes)

    Simply not so that Hartfield could "close him out" by making 7'3" ! All 3 of the other guys had made it on their first attempts. The only way Hartfield could have made the team at that point would be if he made 7'4" and got some help.

    A minor error, but why did not some T&F expert edit this mistake ?!

    Second question is, why did Hartfield take 2 more jumps at 7'3" instead of saving his energy for 2 tries at 7'4" instead ?


    Now having said all that it was a great article and I am looking forward to reading the whole book. Then I can look for more mistakes ( a la " Rome 1960 " book. )

  • #2
    Good job, Steve. YOU should have been the proof reader! Apply for the job.

    As for the wasted jumps and strategic passing... I seldom thought about conserving energy during competitiions. I'd pass if I were really confident and just didn't want to be bothered to clear a ht. I thought nothing of. But how often did you keep track of the board and pass to use 1 or 2 jumps at a higher elevation?

    Me, I preferred to take jumps to iron out problems. My simple minded paradigm was that if I couldn't make this ht. I certainly wouldn't make the next one! And if I could make a ht. on a 2nd or 3rd jump it gave me a chance to cure flaws and a fresh look at 3 new chances at the next elevation.

    I never wore out physically, it was mental erosion really hurt. As soon as my belief system gave way I was all done. And advancing to a new ht. without clearing the previous one was not conducive to my mental health :shock:

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    • #3
      Good input just above. As for me, I cannot remember an instance where I had to make such a decision. Also, I never got involved in a jump-off.

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      • #4
        I though it was a better than average "track" article. I too was disconcerted by the author's prematurely awarding Hartfield first place if he made the jump and I am not even a old high-jumper..

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        • #5
          Nice series of photos with the article. I remember teaching myself to flop that winter on the indoors pit we had in my school's huge gym building, and getting everything right but his arms, which stayed glued to his side throughout the jump. I felt the urge to drive my arms up and out and couldn't break the habit, so I kept it. Worked OK too!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Marlow
            Nice series of photos with the article. I remember teaching myself to flop that winter on the indoors pit we had in my school's huge gym building, and getting everything right but his arms, which stayed glued to his side throughout the jump. I felt the urge to drive my arms up and out and couldn't break the habit, so I kept it. Worked OK too!
            I think Bill Elliott, the second really good American flopper also kept his arms down, Fosbury like. Fosbury did lift his outside arm a bit to about mid chest but brought it down during clearance.
            Even Stones did not get too much out of his arms.

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            • #7
              Proud of SI for doing this. I guess they might be riding the Bolt wave and feel brave enough for the Track and Field writing.
              You there, on the motorbike! Sell me one of your melons!

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              • #8
                I finally got around to reading the article. Have to say it was excellent. They even mentioned Bruce Quande! ( No surprise if you subsribed to T&FN though)

                A few careless errors like this one: " The Eastern Cutoff ( which combined the Scissors motion with a headfirst approach), first seen in 1892, gave way to the Western Roll in 1912"

                Headlast would have been correct as the feet lead over the bar and the head trails in the Eastern Cutoff.

                As late as 1948 both the gold and silver medalists at the London Olympics used the Eastern Cutoff.

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                • #9
                  I wonder why Debbie Brill was not mentioned. My understanding (experts feel free to confirm or deny) is that she was doing a similar "Brill Bend" around the same time as Fosbury was doing his thing.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Peter Michaelson
                    I wonder why Debbie Brill was not mentioned. My understanding (experts feel free to confirm or deny) is that she was doing a similar "Brill Bend" around the same time as Fosbury was doing his thing.
                    Yep, I saw Debbie do the "Brill Bend" at an indoor meet in Calgary in the winter of 1968. This was, of course, post-Olympics but the pub was that she had been using the flop for a while prior to Fosbury making it famous.

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                    • #11
                      Deb. was doing the "Bend" at the same time as Dick was doing the "Flop", for sure. I think they developed independently of each other, although the possibility is there that one (or their coach) saw the other, as their geographic locations were relatively close to each other.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rasb
                        Deb. was doing the "Bend" at the same time as Dick was doing the "Flop", for sure. I think they developed independently of each other, although the possibility is there that one (or their coach) saw the other, as their geographic locations were relatively close to each other.
                        Out of the question. No coach influenced Fosbury to flop. Read the SI article. Coaches fought him every step of the way and only gave up when they saw how high he started to go.
                        Basically the same story with Brill. Initially she taught herself and never knew Fosbury used a similar technique until she saw him jump at a meet where somebody told her: "somebody is jumping your way"

                        I will add that when Fosbury's technique started to evolve toward the flop in high school in 1963 Debbie was 10 years old.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Per Andersen
                          Originally posted by rasb
                          Deb. was doing the "Bend" at the same time as Dick was doing the "Flop", for sure. I think they developed independently of each other, although the possibility is there that one (or their coach) saw the other, as their geographic locations were relatively close to each other.
                          Out of the question. No coach influenced Fosbury to flop. Read the SI article. Coaches fought him every step of the way and only gave up when they saw how high he started to go.
                          Basically the same story with Brill. Initially she taught herself and never knew Fosbury used a similar technique until she saw him jump at a meet where somebody told her: "somebody is jumping your way"

                          I will add that when Fosbury's technique started to evolve toward the flop in high school in 1963 Debbie was 10 years old.
                          Sorry, Per....but what part is "out of the question"? If I read you correctly, this comment refers to coaching. However, I said "or their coach", which covers my ass on that front. It would be interesting to know if Deb started jumping as a "bender", or evolved from a straddle or roll technique. Although I have known her since 1969, I don't know the answer to that question.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rasb


                            Sorry, Per....but what part is "out of the question"? If I read you correctly, this comment refers to coaching. However, I said "or their coach", which covers my ass on that front. It would be interesting to know if Deb started jumping as a "bender", or evolved from a straddle or roll technique. Although I have known her since 1969, I don't know the answer to that question.
                            The last part, which was the only part I commented on, was out of the question.

                            Anyway, Debbie's first technique was a very primitive version of the Western Roll. Fast, straight on run-up, sitting up over the bar with no lay-out.
                            Then she jumped scissors for a while. Her scissor jumping gradually evolved into a backwards jump pretty much as with Fosbury.
                            The flop would not evolve from straddle or roll techniques.

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                            • #15
                              From the horse's mouth, Berny Wagner told me that he had absolutely nothing to do with Fosbury's "invention." And he laughed and said it was kind of neat that he sometimes got credit he did not deserve !

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