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The high jump has been contested since the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. Over the centuries since, competitors have introduced increasingly more effective techniques to arrive at the current form.
In the 1960s, a solitary innovator at Oregon State University, Dick Fosbury, revolutionized the sport. Taking advantage of the raised, softer landing areas by then in use, Fosbury added a new twist. He directed himself over the bar head and shoulders first sliding over on his back and landing in a fashion which would likely have broken his neck in the old sawdust landing pits they used to use. This became known as the Fosbury flop. He used this to win the 1968 Olympic gold medal, and this technique continues to dominate today’s competition.
In a competition, the bar is initially set at a relatively low height, and is moved upward in set increments. Each competitor has the option of choosing at which height they wish to start, as long as the height is greater or equal to the designated starting height for that competition.