"High jumping became my mirror of myself." -- Debbie Brill

Born on March 10, 1953 in Mission, B.C., Debbie Brill of Burnaby revolutionized high jumping with a reverse jumping technique known as the Brill Bend, developed when she was only fourteen years old. Simultaneously an American jumper named Dick Fosbury perfected his backwards 'Fosbury Flop'. Now almost all top-ranked high jumpers have adopted the Brill/Fosbury technique. Brill was named B.C. Athlete of the Decade in 1980, the year she was ranked number one in the world but could not compete at the Olympics because Canada joined the boycott of the Games. She won gold medals at two Commonwealth Games and a World Cup competition, and she competed in three other Olympic Games. She was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1982, the same year she set an indoor world record of 1.99 meters only months after giving birth to her son. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983. She set the Canadian and Commonwealth record at 6'61/4" in 1984. After retiring in 1988, she established a world high jump record (1.89 meters) for women aged 35-39. She was named the B.C. Master Athlete of the Year for 1997/98. More than an athlete, Brill has always used her sport to examine herself as a non-conformist whose aims are spiritual as well as physical. "By looking honestly at all parts of my performance--win or lose--I come to recognize the fears and inhibitions in my life and to find strengths and understanding to overcome them."


Jump (Douglas & McIntyre 1986). Co-written with sports journalist James Lawton.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2003] "Sports"