Dick Fosbury, who invented the high jump in athletics, has died at the age of 76.
The American won gold at the 1968 Mexico Olympics by leaping backwards over the bar, a technique that became known as the ‘Fosbury Flop’ and is still used by high jumpers today.
Using his method, Fosbury set a then-record of 2.24 metres at the Games.
Fosbury’s agent, Ray Schulte, announced his client’s death on Instagram on Sunday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to share the news that long time friend and client Dick Fosbury died peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a brief bout with lymphoma recurrence,” Schulte wrote.
“Dick will be missed by friends and fans all over the world. A true legend and all-around good guy.”
Fosbury began experimenting with the flop at school, and with the encouragement of his coaches, he had nearly perfected it by the time he was in college.
The 6ft 5in athlete cleared 2.24m on his third attempt to win gold in the 1968 Olympic high jump final.
“He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time, but the result made it the standard,” said Michael Johnson, a four-time Olympic champion from the United States and a BBC pundit.
His wife, Robin Tomasi, son Erich, and stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps and Kristin Thompson survive him.
“With the passing of Dick Fosbury, our sport lost a true legend and innovator,” said USA Track and Field (USATF).
“He invented the “Fosbury Flop,” won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics, and spent his entire life advocating for athletes. Fosbury’s legacy will live on for future generations.”
USATF chief executive Max Siegel said he was “deeply saddened” by Fosbury’s passing and called him a “true legend and pioneer in the world of track and field”.
“We will always be grateful for his contributions to the sport and his influence on generations of athletes who have followed in his footsteps,” he added.
“Dick will be missed greatly, but his legacy will serve as an inspiration to all.”