An Andalusian Fosbury
“this what eeee“, asked Francisco Martín Morillas from Granada, standing in front of the television, fascinated by what he had just seen. “Since I was little I liked sports, not just football, all sports, and I never missed a single broadcast, so I At the age of 13, watching the Olympics in Mexico, I was stunned to see that jump, which I recorded in my memory forever”, the Andalusian athlete now confesses, now 68 years old, remembering Dick Fosbury’s ‘flop’ at the ’68 Gamesa year before man set foot on the Moon, when the disruptive American athlete, who died this week, changed the history of the high jump forever.
It is true that without foam mats there would be no back jumping, but it is equally true that the Fosbury technique would not have become global so quickly without the charisma of an athlete determined to remain faithful to the ‘straddle’ technique, in which take off is done with the inside footachieving his own style, evolved from the age of 16 to become the great historical reference of this specialty.
“I remember it in a very visual way, an athlete executing a parabola in the air, looking at the sky to pass to the other side of the bar in a breath,” recalls the Granada-born vaulter, detailing technical aspects that still surprise him. As the naturalness that transmitted the transition between the race and the takeoff, without frights, “doing without the technique of the ventral roll, much more complicated”, specifies the first Spanish record holder who used the ‘Fosbury flop’ to get hold of a national record in the high jump, 2.22 meters in 1979, materializing a vision, or a dream, in which he emulated the 1968 Olympic champion, his adolescent idol, to his measure.
Martín Morillas entered athletics out of obligation. He liked to play soccer, like most of his classmates in Granada and in the town, Benalúa, located in La Hoya de Guadix. He says that his gym teacher coerced him into lowering his physical education grade if he did not sign up for the tetrathlon, a combination for child athletes that consists of four tests, including the vertical jump. “I jumped very little, the height was my worst test along with the shot put. The kick with the left leg and the ventral roll surpassed me. One fine day I made a mistake in heeling and hit with the right and I saw myself flying sitting on the bar. The teacher came to correct me but I blurted out wait, wait, I’ll jump like ‘fóhgury’, like that, said with the ge and the aspirated h. As it turns out that he had passed the height to spare, he accepted my little revolution technique. There I think I converted the obligation into enjoyment”.
At the age of 15, he managed to match the national record for children, 1.70, and with 20, Martín Morillas was the new national champion using the ‘Fosbury flop’. His absolute Spanish record, after having been an Olympian in Montreal 76, surpassed, after three years, between 1976 and 1979, by six centimeters the previous record achieved by the Aragonese Gustavo Marqueta, a 2.16-knee player, the penultimate Mohican of the He jumped astride in Spain together with the Catalan Martí Perarnau and the Basque based in Barcelona, Roberto Cabrejas, the latter two capable of becoming ‘fosburistas’ after years practicing the ventral roller.
The impact of the ‘Fosbury flop’ was already noted at the 1972 Munich Games, four years after the Games in Mexico, with the three jumpers who climbed to the podium emulating the technique that has made the Portland powerhouse immortal. All subsequent world records bear the stamp of the American, except that of the Russian kneeling player Vladimir Yáshchenko and his 2.34 from 1978, in a surprising vintage revision of this style that ultimately did not have continuity.
The 2.09 of the Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova in 1987 and the 2.45 of Javier Sotomayor in Salamanca in 1993, continue to be at the top of the list as current world records in the women’s and men’s categories, respectively, and both contain the Fosbury DNA. . Also the Spanish records of Arturo Ortiz (2.34) and the Olympic champion in Rio 2016 Ruth Beitia (2.02) share technique and style, perhaps 50% in the case of the Cantabrian athlete, with the jumper who hit a whole generation. And to the following. “Fosbury made us dream and taught us to be daring and believe in ourselves, whatever our way of jumping or living,” concludes the Olympian from Granada, still fascinated by the jump that changed his athletic career forever.
Source of data and images: elperiodico