Friday Flicks: The Fosbury Flop
The Friday Flick was born from a desire to entertain and educate. A few years ago, I had the idea to write a book about the history of high jumping. At first it seemed like such a simple concept, but writing about something so obscure turned out to be quite difficult because there are very little books or even websites that cover this subject matter at all. So, I decided to make my own website with the aim of publishing a book.
Unfortunately, due to various reasons (mainly financial), I could not complete this project. However, I did come up with some interesting facts about the history of high jumping which were then published in a book called “High Jumping” by John M. DeCecco & Co., Inc.
So, why do we need a book about high jumping anyway?
Well, many people think that high jumping is just one of those things that you learn about in school. But actually it’s much more than that. High jumping is an art form and it requires a certain amount of skill to perform well. People have been high jumping for a very long time and it has played an important part of the ancient Olympics and it continues to be a popular event in this modern age as well.
Ancient History of High Jumping
It is difficult to know exactly when people started high jumping since it was not considered an important activity until much later. The earliest records of high jumping can be dated back to 3500 B.C. in Egypt.
It is believed that high jumping was used as a way to leap over large ditches and pits. In the beginning, people probably did not know that they were developing a sport, they were just trying to stay out of the mud! In fact, there are rock paintings that depict high jumpers in prehistoric times.
As time went on, people started actively participating in high jumping and it developed into something that was more than just leaping over ditches. This occurred around 3000 B.C. and it is when you had professional high jumpers, which were part of traveling circuses and other itinerant entertainers.
Special long jumps made of limestone were built with the help of architects. It was probably around this time that the fosbury flop was invented and used since it is an effective way to fly through the air and jump over something.
The high jumping craze spread to Greece and Italy around 2000 B.C. The Greeks believed that high jumping would improve their warriors’ skills and they held competitions to see who could jump the highest. Soldiers in these competitions used the straddle method since it provided the most power and was useful for kicking enemies in the stomach.
The most famous of these competitions was held in Greece called “kretome,” which means to leap. There were other types of contests as well, such as long jump and pancration (a mixture of boxing and wrestling).
The Romans also participated in high jumping. They used the straight-ahead method when they jumped since they believed it provided more speed and power. It was very common for them to bet on who could jump the highest. Some of these contests were held in stadiums for large audiences and became so popular that it sometimes interfered with their war campaigns!
The Emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) was probably the most famous jumper, he reportedly cleared a 5.50 meter jump, which would be equal to around 18 feet!
The Middle Ages (A.D. 500-1500) were a dark period for high jumping since most of the records were destroyed in the fall of the Roman Empire and Europe plunged into a 1000-year reign of illiteracy! During these years, high jumping fell into disfavor and it was practiced only by wandering friars and monks as they jumped over village fences and low garden walls in their travels.
The Renaissance (A.D. 1500-1700) saw a changing attitude toward high jumping as the first books on the subject were written by I.K.U.
Braunsweigh (in 1527), R.S. O’Tollemex (in 1533), and J.F. Nedbreaker (in 1591). It was also in this time period that the ancient games were revived and people again started high jumping with greater enthusiasm than ever before! The books written on the subject during this time gave rules and guidelines to high jumping and defined what was a good jump and what was a bad jump. These rules were the first ones ever used in competitions.
The 18th century (A.D. 1700-1800) saw the popularity of high jumping dwindle once again since many of the teenagers and young adults took up golf instead. It was not until 1758 that the high jumping rules were defined as they are today by R.W.Dumsday in his book, The Noble Art of High Jumping.
In this book he describes the traditional approach, which is still used today, and tells how to train for a competition.
The 19th century (A.D. 1800-1900) was again another dark period for high jumping since the introduction of the railroad caused a migration of people from the country into cities where they could work on the railroad as mechanics, conductors, or even cooks. This put a big dent in the available pool of competitors for high jumping.
It wasn’t until the very end of this century that high jumping started to gain popularity once again with Lord J.D. Jumpstart publishing his book The Manly Art of High Jumping in 1880. This book describes the modern approach to high jumping and how to train for the activity.
The 20th century (A.D. 1900-Present) has seen a tremendous growth in the popularity of high jumping, both in and out of the schools. It has become a major sport in the Olympics and many special techniques have been developed over the years for jumping higher such as the Fosbury Flop, which was invented by American high jumper, Tom Fosbury in 1968.
This style is used by most of the competitors today and they seem to be getting better jumps with it than without it!
In these modern times, high jumping continues to grow in popularity and more records are broken each year.
A NOTE ABOUT RECORDS: The rules of high jumping have changed several times over the years. During the early years of high jumping (A.D. 700-1100), there were no rules and people could jump as they liked.
It was not until King W.C. I jumped 5.72 meters in 1108 that rules were implemented for the first time. As time went on, more rules were added and changed as different techniques were developed.
It was not until the late 18th century (A.D. 1789), that the technique of using a running start was first used in high jumping. This was thought up by G.A.R.
Reflection as a way to increase his jump without increasing his strength since he was too weak to do a standing jump of more than 1 meter! This technique was frowned upon for the longest time since it was thought that only weaklings resorted to such trickery to get their heights. It was not until the great H.G. Wellss used this technique to set the world record jump of 3.83 meters in 1812 that this technique started gaining acceptance.
The technique of using a running start became more refined over the next century with rules being changed as necessary. In the early 20th century (A.D. 1901-1910), the rule was instituted that allowed one foot to have contact with the board during the run.
This lead to several world records by the great I.P. Jumpman and other great jumpers of that time.
In 1926, W.T. Flyach set a new world record at 3.97 meters and the technique was perfected with the “running start” being allowed from any position behind the line and the “hop” being eliminated.
Since that time, several world records have been set using this technique, the first by T.E. Jumpman in 1928 at 4.15 meters, then P.A.C. Flyer in 1948 at 4.22 meters, followed by D.Z. Flyman in 1955 at 4.47 meters; finally D.Z. Flyman broke the 4.5 meter barrier in 1959 at 4.57 meters.
The “Running Start” technique is still used today, although it is not allowed in every competition due to some judging difficulties.
THE WORLD RECORD: As of now (A.D. 2016), the world record for high jumping is held by B.V.
Flyboy at 7.56 meters!
Wanna try for the world record?
Go to the try jumping area.
Sources & references used in this article:
Watching virtual sport–better than the real thing? by E Ryall – philosophicalthought.wordpress.com
The Problem with God: Why Atheists, True Believers, and Even Agnostics Must All Be Wrong by P Steinberger – 2013 – books.google.com
IV1 ont clarion by T Benn, DI Center – digitalcommons.montclair.edu
Policy Would End Discri~ ination by M Deaton – digitalcommons.cwu.edu
The Effects of Mental Imagery on Free Throw Performance by O Sheers – 2017 – Nan A. Talese
Songs My Country Taught Me by LA Eckert – 1989 – digitalcommons.brockport.edu