Eugene-based writer (and Paulina Springs favorite) Bob Welch, with the assistance of his subject, has written a fascinating accounting of the path Dick Fosbury, he of “Fosbury Flop” fame, took to becoming an Olympic champion in the high jump. More than a biography, it is a snapshot of the time and place in which Dick grew up, so much of which contributed to his growth as a person and his singular approach to high jumping. An Oregon “boy,” Fosbury grew up in Medford and later attended OSU. His road to his successful high jumping career as a young athlete was one filled with many potholes: the death of his younger brother, the divorce of his parents, his LACK of success doing the traditional high jump straddle, the lack of SUPPORT and often the ridicule of fellow athletes and even coaches as he found his way to his own high jumping technique. Where once he was alone, at most one of two or three people trying this technique, the Fosbury Flop is now THE high jumping technique used by high jumpers around the world, including Bend’s own Olympic decathlete, Ashton Eaton. I liked this book on many levels, not the least of which was the fascinating trajectory of Dick’s life. I grew up in the Rogue Valley and the descriptions of places and the times (a bit before mine), brought back MY memories of growing up there. Sports fan and non-sports fans should read this thoughtful, well-written book about an Oregon icon.
I’m going to throw in something on a more personal level. My Dad, who is 92, still lives in Grants Pass here I grew up. I was telling him about this book after I finished it and he says casually “Oh yeah, I helped his (Dick’s) Dad with his computer a few times.” Now I know that after my Dad retired from practicing medicine he leapt whole-heartedly into learning about computers and that he belonged to more than one computer club in town. Come to find out, Dick’s dad contacted someone in one of those clubs because he needed some help with his computer and there went my Dad, on a DIFFERENT kind of house call than he used to make! Small, small world!
–Sue, Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR