“As Olympians, we’re trying out best to provide opportunities for you young athletes,” Dick Fosbury promised his audience on Tuesday night. The high school and college athletes he referred to had come to see him speak for free on campus, along with his Olympic teammate and fellow gold medalist Tommie Smith. The event was open to the public and largely filled with participants of the Bowdoin-hosted Dick Fosbury Track & Field Camp.
Fosbury won gold in the 1968 Olympic high jump and is the original creator of the Fosbury Flop – a technique used almost ubiquitously by today’s high jumpers. He discussed the importance of family as well as the three key features of “olympian thinking”: passion, vision and action.
Smith is not only an unparalleled record-setting athlete, but also a cultural icon. At his prime, Smith held 11 track and field world records at once, of which he still holds two. He is also remembered for raising his fist against racial injustice on the victory stand in Mexico City. “I had a world platform to take action against something that was wrong,” he said of his gesture. He shared his inspiring life story with Tuesday’s audience, encouraging pride, resilience, and responsibility, and taught the four p’s: prepare, pursue, persist, positive outlook.
The two Olympians imparted not only wisdom, but a demonstration of their strong friendship and appreciation for one another. One audience member asked if Smith still had plans to compete; Smith currently trains purely for the exercise and enjoyment, but he joked, “if Dick Fosbury goes to nationals in June, I’ll run.”
“You heard it here,” Fosbury replied to the audience… “we’re both done.”