To Go Forward Face Backwards

Posted by jlubans on October 26, 2018

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Caption: Contrarian Jumping Horse by Peter Baldus


Less than a week ago, NPR marked the 50th anniversary of Dick Fosbury’s win in the high jump at the Mexico City Olympics.
What was remarkable then was this young man from Oregon using a move now immortalized as the Fosbury Flop.
As the NPR headline cleverly has it: He “turned his back on the bar and made a flop a success”.
Well, actually unlike the German cartoon with the horse launching backwards, Fosbury still faced the jump, approached it face on and then torqued his body so that he flew over with his back to the bar.
I’d say clearing 7 feet 4 inches and a quarter is a bit like flying.
Fosbury’s story offers all of us a lesson in contrarian thinking.
Few if any coaches believed his technique could work, yet he persisted because he believed going backwards, and lifting his hips, would help him clear the bar.
Now, for almost all subsequent high jumpers, the “only way forward was to go backwards.”

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© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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