On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Oregon State University athlete Dick Fosbury’s Olympic Gold Medal win in the high jump using a then-unproven backward jumping technique, OSU unveiled a new bronze statue depicting the historic moment on campus.
“Seeing this is like standing on the podium at the Olympics, watching your flag go up,” Fosbury said to the audience gathered for the unveiling. “I’m speechless.”
Fosbury’s technique, known as the “Fosbury flop,” became the standard technique in high jump after his win.
The statue, by Eugene artist Ellen Tykeson, depicts Fosbury’s Olympic-record setting jump of 7 feet, 4¼ inches, which was established on Oct. 20 during the 1968 Olympics. It also features two basalt columns of different heights, which Tykeson said was meant to show the break from tradition Fosbury’s technique represented. The taller of the columns stands at the height of the athlete's record-setting jump, which the artist said was intended to drive home just how high it was.
Fosbury said Tykeson did amazing work on the statue.
“It’s art, it’s engineering, it’s structural and it flows. I love it. I’m so impressed,” he said.
He addressed the students in the audience, saying he hoped the statue would inspire them to create and innovate themselves.
OSU President Ed Ray said the unveiling of the statue was a perfect part of the 15-month-long celebration of OSU’s 150th anniversary because Fosbury’s innovation is a good representation for how the university and its students have moved the world forward.
Ray said the site of the statue, outside of Dixon Recreation Center, is on the former Bell Field, where Fosbury trained as a student athlete.
Steve Preece, a member of the 1967 “Giant Killers” OSU football team, also spoke at the event, saying the team had made Fosbury an honorary Giant Killer because he was close with the team during their time on campus together.
“Nobody (on the football team) believed they could change their position or change their sport like Dick Fosbury did…” he said. “Nobody was a giant killer like him.”