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Dick Fosbury, Olympic champion who revolutionized high jump, dies at 76

Richard Fosbury of the U.S., in his unusual "flip-flop" style, sets an Olympic record as he clears the bar in the high jump event at 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the 1968 Olympics. (Photo by Bettmann / Contributor/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Dick Fosbury, legendary Olympic gold high jumper who revolutionized the track and field event, died Sunday of lymphoma, according to his publicist Ray Schulte. Fosbury was 76.

“It is with a very heavy heart I have to release the news that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a short bout with a recurrence of lymphoma,” Schulte wrote on Instagram on Monday.

Fosbury showcased his signature technique — the popular “Fosbury Flop” — where he threw himself back first over the bar in the high jump at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Fosbury broke the Olympic and US records with a jump of 2.24 meters to earn the gold medal.

At Oregon State University, Fosbury won the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in 1968 using the “flop.”

The USA Track and Field and Team USA offered their condolences to the sport legend.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dick Fosbury, a true legend and pioneer in the world of track and field. Dick’s innovative technique of the ‘Fosbury Flop’ revolutionized the high jump event and forever changed the sport,” Max Siegel, CEO of USA Track & Field said in a statement. “His gold medal victory at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics not only cemented his place in U.S. Olympic history, but also left an indelible mark on the global athletic community. We will always be grateful for his contributions to the sport and his impact on generations of athletes who followed in his footsteps.”

Team USA added: “He was truly an Olympic pioneer and legend. Team USA pays tribute to Fosbury’s remarkable life and enduring legacy.”

The Olympic Games tweeted,” He will live on in Olympic history. Rest in peace, Dick Fosbury, the man who changed high jump forever.”

Fosbury was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1981 and the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is survived by his wife, Robin Tomasi; son, Erich Fosbury; stepdaughters Stephanie Thomas-Phipps and Kristin Thompson.