HOME

TheInfoList




Athletics is a group of
sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Skill, skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectato ...

sport
ing events that involves competitive
running Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion Terrestrial locomotion has evolved Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from ...

running
,
jumping Jumping or leaping is a form of locomotion or movement in which an organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical ...

jumping
,
throwing Throwing is the launching of a ballistic projectile by hand. This action is only possible for animals with the ability to grasp objects with their hands (mainly primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian ...
, and
walking Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gait Gait is the pattern of movement Movement may refer to: Common uses * Movement (clockwork), the internal mechanism of a timepiece * Motion (physics), commonly referred to as move ...

walking
. The most common types of athletics competitions are
track and field Track and field is a sport that includes Competition#Sports, athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some o ...
,
road running Image:1990 Synwell 10-01.jpg, Athletes at the start of a 10-mile race in Gloucestershire in England, United Kingdom, UK in 1990. Road running is the sport of running on a measured course over an established road. This differs from track and fie ...
,
cross country running Cross country running is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. The course, typically long, may include surfaces of grass and soil, earth, pass through woodlands and ope ...
, and
racewalking Racewalking, or race walking, is a long-distance discipline within the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or im ...
. The results of
racing In sport, racing is a competition of speed, against an objective criterion, usually a clock or to a specific point. The competitors in a race try to complete a given task in the shortest amount of time. Typically this involves :wikt:traverse, tr ...

racing
events are decided by finishing position (or time, where measured), while the jumps and throws are won by the
athlete An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a person who competes in one or more sports that involve physical strength, speed or endurance. The use of the term in several sports, such as golf or auto racing, becomes a controversial issue. A ...

athlete
that achieves the highest or furthest measurement from a series of attempts. The simplicity of the competitions, and the lack of a need for expensive equipment, makes athletics one of the most common types of sports in the world. Athletics is mostly an individual sport, with the exception of relay races and competitions which combine athletes' performances for a team score, such as cross country. Organized athletics are traced back to the
Ancient Olympic Games The ancient Olympic Games (Ὀλυμπιακοί ἀγώνες, "Olympiakoi agones") were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can ...
from 776 BC. The rules and format of the modern events in athletics were defined in Western Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th century, and were then spread to other parts of the world. Most modern top level meetings are held under the auspices of
World Athletics World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
, the global governing body for the sport of athletics, or its member continental and national federations. The athletics meeting forms the backbone of the
Summer Olympics The Summer Olympic Games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, are a major international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), ...
. The foremost international athletics meeting is the
World Athletics Championships The World Athletics Championships are a biennial Athletics (sport), athletics competition organized by World Athletics (formerly IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federations). The World Championships were started in 1976 in response ...
, which incorporates track and field, marathon running and race walking. Other top level competitions in athletics include the World Athletics Cross Country Championships and the
World Half Marathon Championships
World Half Marathon Championships
. Athletes with a
physical disability A physical disability is a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other physical disabilities A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effecti ...
compete at the
Summer Paralympics The Summer Paralympics also known as the Games of the Paralympiad, are an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among o ...
and the
World Para Athletics Championships The World Para Athletics Championships, known as the IPC Athletics World Championships prior to 2017, are a biennial Paralympic athletics Para-athletics is the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves compet ...
. The word athletics is derived from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
(, "combatant in public games") from (, "prize") or (, "competition"). Initially, the term described athletic contests in general – i.e. sporting competition based primarily on human physical feats. In the 19th century, the term athletics acquired a more narrow definition in Europe and came to describe sports involving competitive running, walking, jumping and throwing. This definition continues to be prominent in the United Kingdom and the former
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. Related words in
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
and
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
also have a similar meaning. In much of North America, ''athletics'' is synonymous with sports in general, maintaining the historical usage of the term. The word "athletics" is rarely used to refer to the sport of athletics in this region. ''Track and field'' is preferred, and is used in the United States and Canada to refer to athletics events, including racewalking and marathon running (although cross country running is typically considered a separate sport).


History


Ancient

Athletic contests in running, walking, jumping and throwing are among the oldest of all sports and their roots are
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...

prehistoric
. Athletics events were depicted in the
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
tombs in
Saqqara Saqqara ( ar, سقارة, ), also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English , is an Egyptian village in Giza Governorate Giza Governorate ( ar, محافظة الجيزة ') is one of the governorates of Egypt For administrative purposes, Egypt ...

Saqqara
, with illustrations of
running Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion Terrestrial locomotion has evolved Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from ...

running
at the Heb Sed festival and
high jump The high jump is a track and field Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass f ...

high jump
ing appearing in tombs from as early as of 2250 BC. The Tailteann Games were an ancient
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...

Celtic
festival in
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
, founded circa 1800 BC, and the thirty-day meeting included
running Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion Terrestrial locomotion has evolved Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from ...

running
and
stone-throwing
stone-throwing
among its sporting events. The original and only event at the first Olympics in 776 BC was a stadium-length running event known as the '' stadion''. This later expanded to include throwing and jumping events within the ancient pentathlon. Athletics competitions also took place at other
Panhellenic Games "Panhellenic Games" is the collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Age ...
, which were founded later around 500 BC.


Modern era

The Cotswold Olympic Games, a sports festival which emerged in 17th century
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
, featured athletics in the form of
sledgehammer A sledgehammer is a with a large, flat, often head, attached to a long handle. The long handle combined with a heavy head allows the sledgehammer to gather momentum during a swing and apply a large compared to hammers designed to drive nails. ...

sledgehammer
throwing contests. Annually, from 1796 to 1798, L'Olympiade de la République was held in
revolutionary France The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

revolutionary France
, and is an early forerunner to the modern Olympic Games. The premier event of this competition was a running event, but various ancient Greek disciplines were also on display. The 1796 Olympiade marked the introduction of the
metric system The metric system is a system of measurement A system of measurement is a collection of units of measurement and rules relating them to each other. Systems of measurement have historically been important, regulated and defined for the purpose ...

metric system
into the sport. Athletics competitions were held about 1812 at the
Royal Military College, Sandhurst The Royal Military College (RMC), founded in 1801 and established in 1802 at Great Marlow Great Marlow is a civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designatio ...
, and in 1840 in
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , ) is a market town and the county town of Shropshire, England. The town is situated on the River Severn, north-west of London, and the 2011 census recorded a population of 71,715. The town centre has a largely unspoilt mediev ...
,
Shropshire Shropshire (; alternatively Salop; abbreviated in print only as Shrops; demonym Salopian ) is a landlocked historic Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. It is bordered by Wales to the we ...

Shropshire
at the Royal
Shrewsbury School Shrewsbury School is a public school (English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvani ...
Hunt. The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich held an organised competition in 1849, and a regular series of closed meetings open only to undergraduates, was held by
Exeter College, Oxford (Let Exeter Flourish) , old_names = ''Stapeldon Hall'' , named_for = Walter de Stapledon Walter de Stapledon (or Stapeldon) (1 February 126114 October 1326) was Bishop of Exeter The Bishop of Exeter is the Ordinary (offi ...
from 1850. The annual
Wenlock Olympian Games The Wenlock Olympian Games, dating from 1850, are a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competiti ...
, first held in 1850 in Wenlock, England, incorporated athletics events into its sports programme. The first modern-style indoor athletics meetings were recorded shortly after in the 1860s, including a meet at Ashburnham Hall in London which featured four running events and a triple jump competition. The
Amateur Athletic Association The Amateur Athletic Association of England or AAA (pronounced 'three As') is the oldest national governing body for athletics Athletics may refer to: Sports * Sport of athletics, a collection of sporting events that involve competitive runnin ...
(AAA) was established in England in 1880 as the first national body for the sport of athletics and began holding its own annual athletics competition – the
AAA Championships The AAA Championships was an annual track and field Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running tra ...
. The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
also began holding an annual national competition – the
USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships The USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships is an annual track and field Track and field is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical abi ...
– first held in 1876 by the
New York Athletic Club The New York Athletic Club is a Gentlemen's club, private social club and athletic club in New York (state), New York. Founded in 1868, the club has approximately 8,600 members and two facilities: the City House, located at 180 Central Park Sout ...

New York Athletic Club
.The United States' National Championships In Track & Field Athletics: Introduction
. ''
Track and Field News ''Track & Field News'' is an American monthly sports magazine founded in 1948 by brothers Bert Nelson (publisher), Bert Nelson and Cordner Nelson, focused on the world of track and field. The magazine provides coverage of athletics in the United S ...
''. Retrieved on 2009-09-19.
Athletics became codified and standardized via the English AAA and other general sports organisations in the late 19th century, such as the
Amateur Athletic Union The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is an amateur sports Amateur sports are sports in which participants engage largely or entirely without remuneration. The distinction is made between amateur sporting participants and professional sports, prof ...
(founded in the US in 1888) and the
Union des sociétés françaises de sports athlétiques The Union of French Athletic Sports Societies (french: Union des sociétés françaises de sports athlétiques (USFSA) was a former sports governing body A sports governing body is a sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive ...
(founded in France in 1889). An athletics competition was included in the first modern
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
in 1896 and it has been as one of the foremost competitions at the quadrennial
multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in Alexandria, Egypt Sports clubs *AC Sporting, a football club from Beirut, Lebanon *Alexandria Sporting Club, a sp ...
ever since. Originally for men only, the 1928 Olympics saw the introduction of women's events in the athletics programme. Athletics is part of the
Paralympic Games The Paralympic Games or Paralympics, also known as the ''Games of the Paralympiad'', is a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of physical disability, disabilities, including impaired muscle power ...
since the inaugural Games in
1960 It is also known as the "Year of Africa is referred to as the Year of Africa because of a series of events that took place during the year—mainly the independence of seventeen African nations—that highlighted the growing Pan-Africanism, ...
. Athletics has a very high-profile during major championships, especially the Olympics, but otherwise is less popular. An international governing body, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), was founded in 1912. It enforced
amateur sport Amateur sports are sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Skill, skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some case ...
status on competitions during much of the 20th century. Professional competition continued at a low level, becoming increasingly more common as the century progressed. The International Track Association briefly formed a professional track and field circuit in the United States in the 1970s. Athletes used their increasing status to push for remuneration and the IAAF responded with the IAAF Golden Events series and the establishment an outdoor
World Championships A world championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport, game, o ...
in 1983, including track and field, racewalking and a marathon event. In modern times, athletes can receive money for racing, putting an end to the so-called "
amateurism An amateur (; ; ) is generally considered a person who pursues a particular activity or field of study independently from their source of income. Amateurs and their pursuits are also described as popular, informal, autodidacticism, self-taught, use ...
" that existed before. The global body updated the name to the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2001, moving away from its amateur origins, before taking on its current name
World Athletics World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
in 2019. The Comité International Sports des Sourds had been formed by 1922, to govern international deaf sports, including athletics.Para- Athletics – History
,
Athletics Canada Athletics Canada or AC (french: Athlétisme Canada) is the national governing body of athletics in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territor ...
The first organized international competitions for athletes with a
physical disability A physical disability is a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other physical disabilities A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effecti ...
(not deaf) began in 1952, when the first international
Stoke Mandeville Games Stoke is a common place name in the United Kingdom. Stoke may refer to: Places United Kingdom The largest city called Stoke is Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. See below. Berkshire * Stoke Row, Berkshire Bristol * Stoke Bishop * Stoke ...
were organized for World War II veterans.About the Sport
, IPC Athletics
This only included athletes in a
wheelchair A wheelchair is a chair One of the basic pieces of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and sofas), eating (table (furniture), tables), and ...

wheelchair
. This inspired the first
Paralympic Games The Paralympic Games or Paralympics, also known as the ''Games of the Paralympiad'', is a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of physical disability, disabilities, including impaired muscle power ...
, held in 1960. Competitions would over time be expanded to include mainly athletes with
amputation Amputation is the removal of a limb Limb can refer to: *Limb (anatomy), an appendage of a human or animal *Limb Music, a record label *Limb (album), an album by Foetus *Limb, in astronomy, the curved edge of the apparent disk of a celestial body, ...

amputation
,
cerebral palsy Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of movement disorders Movement disorder refers to any clinical syndrome with either an excess of movement or a paucity of voluntary and involuntary movements, unrelated to weakness or spasticity Spasticity () is ...

cerebral palsy
and
visual impairment Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment or vision loss, is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are vision eyew ...
, in addition to wheelchair events.


Events

World Athletics, the sport's governing body, defines athletics in six disciplines:
track and field Track and field is a sport that includes Competition#Sports, athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some o ...
, oad running
race walking Racewalking, or race walking, is a long-distance discipline within the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves competitive running, jumping, throwing sports, throwing, and walking. The most common types of a ...
,
cross country running Cross country running is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. The course, typically long, may include surfaces of grass and soil, earth, pass through woodlands and ope ...
,
mountain running Mountain running is a sports discipline which takes place mainly off-road Off-roading is the activity of driving Driving is the controlled operation and movement of a vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, truck mining truck A t ...
, and
trail running Trail running is a sport-activity which combines , and, where there are steep gradients, , that is run "on any unpaved surface". It is similar to both and (also known as hill running). Mountain running may, however, include paved sections. T ...
. Mountain running was added in 2003 and trail running was added in 2015. All forms of athletics are
individual sports An individual sport is a sport in which participants compete as individuals. However, team competitions in individual sports also occur, such as the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup. Overview Examples *Badminton *Cue sports, Billiards *Bodybuilding ...
with the exception of
relay race A relay race is a racing In sport, racing is a competition of speed, against an objective criterion, usually a clock or to a specific point. The competitors in a race try to complete a given task in the shortest amount of time. Typically this ...

relay race
s. However, athletes' performances are often tallied together by country at international championships, and, in the case of cross country and road races, finishing positions or times of the top athletes from a team may be combined to declare a team victor. Several further forms of competitive running exist outside of the governance of World Athletics. The
International Skyrunning Federation The International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) is the world governing body for skyrunning. The ISF today counts 41 Member nations. The Federation of Sports at Altitude (FSA) used to be the organization which governed and managed the sports of skyrun ...
(ISF) governs high-altitude mountain running, defined as
skyrunning Skyrunning is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainm ...
, and is affiliated with the
International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, commonly known by its French language, French name Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme (UIAA, lit. ''International Union of List of alpine clubs, Alpine Clubs''), was foun ...
rather than World Athletics. Competitive
stair climbing Stair climbing is the climbing Climbing is the activity of using one's hands, feet, or any other part of the body to ascend a steep topographical object. It is done for locomotion, recreation and competition, and within trades that rely on a ...
events, usually hosted in
skyscraper A skyscraper is a tall continuously habitable building having multiple floors. Modern sources currently define skyscrapers as being at least 100 metres or 150 metres in height, though there is no universally accepted definition. Skyscrapers ar ...

skyscraper
s, has two common names: vertical running (as described by the ISF) and
tower runningTower running is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertain ...
(as described by the Towerrunning World Association).
Snowshoe running Snowshoe running, or snowshoeing, is a winter sport practiced with snowshoes, which is governed by World Snowshoe Federation (WSSF) founded in 2010, which until 2015 had its name International Snowshoe Federation (ISSF). The snowshoes running is par ...
is a
winter sport #REDIRECT Winter sports#REDIRECT Winter sports Winter sports or winter activities are competitive sports or non-competitive recreational activities which are played on snow or ice. Most are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditi ...
governed by the World Snowshoe Federation, which is similarly to cross country running but has athletes wearing
snowshoe Snowshoes are specialized outdoor gear for walking over snow Snow comprises individual ice Ice is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's ...

snowshoe
s to race over deep snow on an obstacle-free course. The
International Association of Ultrarunners The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) is the world governing body of ultra running, race events longer than the marathon The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of , usually run as a road race. The e ...
organises
ultra running An ultramarathon, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of . Overview There are two main types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance or route, and those ...
as an affiliate of World Athletics, but these long-distance forms of competition fit within World Athletics disciplines, albeit with additional distance.


Track and field

Track and field competitions emerged in the late 19th century and were typically contested between athletes who were representing rival
educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and persona ...
s,
military organisation Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an int ...
s and
sports club A sports club or sporting club, sometimes athletics club or sports society or sports association, is a group of people formed for the purpose of playing sports. Sports clubs range from organisations whose members play together, unpaid, and may ...

sports club
s.History – Introduction
.
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 25 March 2010.
Participating athletes may compete in one or more events, according to their specialities. Men and women compete separately. Track and field comes in both indoor and outdoor formats, with most indoor competitions occurring in
winter Winter is the coldest season of the year in Polar regions of Earth, polar and temperate climate, temperate zones. It occurs between autumn and spring (season), spring. The tilt of Earth's axis causes seasons; winter occurs when a Hemisphere ...

winter
, while outdoor events are mostly held in
summer Summer is the hottest of the four temperate In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenom ...

summer
. The sport is defined by the venue in which the competitions are held – the
track and field stadium A stadium (plural stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered structure designed to allow spectators to st ...

track and field stadium
. A variety of
running Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion Terrestrial locomotion has evolved Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from ...

running
events are held on the track which fall into three broad distance categories: sprints, middle-distance, and
long-distance track event Long-distance running, or endurance running, is a form of continuous running over distances of at least . Physiologically, it is largely aerobic in nature and requires stamina as well as mental strength. Among mammal Mammals (from La ...
s. Relay races feature teams comprising four runners each, who must pass a
baton Baton may refer to: Stick-like objects *Baton (conducting), a short thin stick used for directing a musical performance *Baton, a type of Club (weapon), club **Baton (law enforcement) **Baston (weapon), a type of baton used in Arnis and Filipino M ...
to their teammate after a specified distance with the aim of being the first team to finish.
Hurdling Hurdling is the act of jumping over an obstacle at a high speed or in a sprint. In the early 19th century, hurdle 175px, A mobile cattle pen made using steel hurdles; attached to a cattle crush in foreground Ancient site of the "ford of hur ...

Hurdling
events and the steeplechase are a variation upon the flat running theme in that athletes must clear obstacles on the track during the race. The field events come in two types – jumping and throwing competitions. In throwing events, athletes are measured by how far they hurl an implement, with the common events being the
shot put The shot put is a track and field event involving "putting" (pushing rather than throwing) a heavy spherical Ball (sports), ball—the ''shot''—as far as possible. The shot put competition for men has been a part of the modern Olympics since th ...
, discus,
javelin A javelin is a light spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's ...

javelin
, and
hammer throw The hammer throw is one of the four throwing events in regular track and field Track and field is a sport that includes Competition#Sports, athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from w ...

hammer throw
. There are four common jumping events: the
long jump The long jump is a track and field Track and field is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjo ...

long jump
and
triple jump The triple jump, sometimes referred to as the hop, step and jump or the hop, skip and jump, is a track and field Track and field is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims ...

triple jump
are contests measuring the horizontal distance an athlete can jump, while the
high jump The high jump is a track and field Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass f ...

high jump
and
pole vault #REDIRECT Pole vault Pole vaulting, also known as pole jumping, is a track and field Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where ...
are decided on the height achieved.
Combined events Combined track and field events are competitions in which athletes participate in a number of track and field events, earning points for their performance in each event, which adds to a total points score. Outdoors, the most common combined events ...
, which include the
decathlon The decathlon is a combined event Combined track and field events are competitions in which athletes participate in a number of track and field events, earning points for their performance in each event, which adds to a total points score. Out ...

decathlon
(typically competed by men) and
heptathlon A heptathlon is a track and field Track and field is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoymen ...
(typically competed by women), are competitions where athletes compete in a number of different track and field events, with each performance going toward a final points tally. The most prestigious track and field contests occur within athletics championships and athletics programmes at
multi-sport events A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among organized teams of athletes from (mostly) nation-states A nation state is a state in which a great majorit ...
. The Olympic athletics competition and
World Championships in Athletics The World Athletics Championships are a biennial Athletics (sport), athletics competition organized by World Athletics (formerly IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federations). The World Championships were started in 1976 in response ...
, and the Paralympic athletics competition and
World Para Athletics Championships The World Para Athletics Championships, known as the IPC Athletics World Championships prior to 2017, are a biennial Paralympic athletics Para-athletics is the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves compet ...
, are the highest and most prestigious levels of competition in track and field. Track and field events have become the most prominent part of major athletics championships and many famous athletes within the sport of athletics come from this discipline. Discrete track and field competitions are found at
national championshipsA national championship(s) is the top achievement for any sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to par ...
-level and also at annual, invitational track and field meets. Meetings range from elite competitions – such as those in the IAAF Diamond League series – to basic all comers track meets, inter-sports club meetings and schools events, which form the grassroots of track and field.


Road running

Road running competitions are running events (predominantly long distance) which are mainly conducted on courses of Road surface, paved or Asphalt concrete, tarmac roads, although major events often finish on the track of a main stadium. In addition to being a common recreational sport, the elite level of the sport – particularly marathon races – are one of the most popular aspects of athletics. Road racing events can be of virtually any distance, but the most common and well known are the marathon, half marathon, 10K run, 10 km and 5K run, 5 km. The marathon is the only road running event featured at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics and the Summer Olympics, although there is also an annual IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. The marathon is also the only road running event featured at the
World Para Athletics Championships The World Para Athletics Championships, known as the IPC Athletics World Championships prior to 2017, are a biennial Paralympic athletics Para-athletics is the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves compet ...
and the
Summer Paralympics The Summer Paralympics also known as the Games of the Paralympiad, are an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among o ...
. The World Marathon Majors series includes the six most prestigious marathon competitions at the elite level – the Berlin Marathon, Berlin, Boston Marathon, Boston, Chicago Marathon, Chicago, London Marathon, London, New York City Marathon, New York City and Tokyo Marathons. The sport of road running finds its roots in the activities of footmen: male servants who ran alongside the carriages of Aristocracy (class), aristocrats around the 18th century, and who also ran errands over distances for their masters. Foot racing competitions evolved from Gambling, wagers between aristocrats, who pitted their footman against that of another aristocrat in order to determine a winner. The sport became Professional sports, professionalised as footmen were hired specifically on their athletic ability and began to devote their lives to training for the gambling events. The amateur sports movement in the late 19th century marginalised competitions based on the professional, gambling model. The 1896 Summer Olympics saw the birth of the modern marathon and the event led to the growth of road running competitions through annual events such as the Boston Marathon (first held in 1897) and the Lake Biwa Marathon and Fukuoka Marathons, which were established in the 1940s. The Running boom, 1970s running boom in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
made road running a common pastime and also increased its popularity at the elite level. Ekiden contests – which originated in Japan and remain very popular there – are a relay race variation on the marathon, being in contrast to the typically individual sport of road running.


Cross country running

Cross country running is the most naturalistic of the sports in athletics as competitions take place on open-air courses over surfaces such as grass, woodland trails, and soil, earth. It is both an individual and team sport, as runners are judged on an individual basis and a points scoring method is used for teams. Competitions are typically long distance races of or more which are usually held in autumn and winter. Cross country's most successful athletes often compete in long-distance track and road events as well. The Crick Run in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
in 1838 was the first recorded instance of an organised cross country competition. The sport gained popularity in British, then American schools in the 19th century and culminated in the creation of the first International Cross Country Championships in 1903. The annual IAAF World Cross Country Championships was inaugurated in 1973 and this remains the highest level of competition for the sport. A number of continental cross country competitions are held, with championships taking place in Asian Cross Country Championships, Asia, European Cross Country Championships, Europe, Americas Cross Country Championships, North America and South American Cross Country Championships, South America. The sport has retained its status at the scholastic level, particularly in the United Kingdom and United States. At the professional level, the foremost competitions come under the banner of the IAAF Cross Country Permit Meetings. While cross country competitions are no longer held at the Olympics, having featured in the athletics programme from 1912–1924, it has been present as one of the events within the modern pentathlon competition since the 1912 Summer Olympics. One variation on traditional cross country is
mountain running Mountain running is a sports discipline which takes place mainly off-road Off-roading is the activity of driving Driving is the controlled operation and movement of a vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, truck mining truck A t ...
, which incorporates significant uphill and/or downhill sections as an additional challenge to the course. Fell running and Orienteering are other competitive sports similar to cross country, although they feature an element of navigation which is absent from the set courses of cross country.


Racewalking

Racewalking is a form of competitive
walking Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gait Gait is the pattern of movement Movement may refer to: Common uses * Movement (clockwork), the internal mechanism of a timepiece * Motion (physics), commonly referred to as move ...

walking
that usually takes place on open-air roads, although running tracks are also occasionally used. Racewalking is the only sport in athletics in which judges monitor athletes on their technique. Racewalkers must always have a foot in contact with the ground and their advancing leg must be straightened, not bent at the knee – failure to follow these rules results in disqualification from the race.Race Walking – Introduction
.
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 2010-05-28.
Racewalking finds its roots in the sport of pedestrianism which emerged in the late 18th century in England. Spectators would gamble on the outcome of the walking competitions. The sport took on an endurance aspect and competitions were held over long distances or walkers would have to achieve a certain distance within a specified time frame, such as Centurion (racewalking), Centurion contests of walking within 24 hours. During this period, racewalking was frequently held on athletics tracks for ease of measurement, and the 1908 Summer Olympics in London saw the introduction of the 3500-metre and 10-mile walks. Racewalking was briefly dropped from the Olympic programme in Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics, 1928, but the men's 50 kilometres race walk has been held at every Olympic Games but one since 1932. The men's 20 kilometres race walk was added to the Olympic athletics schedule in 1956 and the women's event was first held in 1992. The most common events in modern competition are over 10 km, 20 km and 50 km on roads, although women's 3 km and men's 5 km are held on indoor tracks. The highest level racewalking competitions occur at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics and at the Summer Olympics, although the sport also has its own separate major competition – the IAAF World Race Walking Cup – which has been held since 1961. The IAAF World Race Walking Challenge forms the primary seasonal competition – athletes earn points for their performances at ten selected racewalking competitions and the highest scoring walkers are entered into that year's IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final.


Categories

The significant variation in people's abilities in the sport of athletics has led to the creation of numerous competitive categories, in order that athletes are pitted against rivals of a similar kind or ability, and to include groups of people who would otherwise not be competitive in open-to-all events. The eligibility of athletes for a given category is occasionally a source of controversy among the sport's participants, officials and spectators, with disputes typically being rooted in deliberate cheating in order to gain a competitive advantage or differing cultural perspectives over the eligibility of a category. Beyond the primary categories based on physical attributes, some competitions have further eligibility criteria based on nationality, community membership or occupation.


Men's and women's divisions

The foremost division of this kind is by sex[ling]: in athletics, men and women almost exclusively compete against people of the same sex. In contrast to the men's division, the development of the women's division has caused regular dispute in terms of eligibility. Several intersex athletes had success in the women's division in the early 20th century, such as Stanisława Walasiewicz and Mary Weston (later Mark), and the IAAF responded by introducing Sex verification in sports, sex verification for all athletes in the women's category, beginning with the disqualification of sprinter Foekje Dillema in 1950 after she refused to be tested. Olympic champion Ewa Kłobukowska became the first athlete to publicly fail the test in 1967 and the humiliation she suffered as a result of the announcement led to sex tests becoming a confidential process. Hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño failed a test and was disqualified in 1985, but publicly fought the ban in court and was reinstated in 1988. In 1991, the IAAF replaced the sex chromatin test with general medical tests for athletes of all divisions, due to changes in ethical and scientific viewpoints. The question of eligibility for the women's division continued to be a contentious and public issue into the 21st century, with Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand bearing periods of inegibility and taking the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over their bans under the hyperandrogenism rules. An increasing number of trans men and trans women began to compete in the women's division in the 2010s, which caused other athletes in the division to raise questions of fairness in competition. The dispute reached new heights in 2019 with the United Nations Human Rights Council issuing a statement that the IAAF was breaching "international human rights norms and standards" through its practice of allowing some athletes to compete in the women's division only once they had lowered their testosterone levels through medical intervention. The IAAF and several prominent women athletes, such as Paula Radcliffe, said this was required in order to prevent a situation where countries deliberately sought out athletes who were intersex, transgender or had a difference in sex development (DSD) in order to succeed in women's sport. Others have argued for the abolition of gender verification testing, with academic Maren Behrensen citing the harm to tested athletes' social and emotional well-being, the inaccuracy of the medical tests, the difficulty of determining the exact performance advantage provided by a given condition, and the moral risk of "gender-engineering" by setting a biological definition for a female athlete.


Age

Age is a significant determiner of ability to compete in athletics, with athletic ability generally increasing through childhood and adolescence, peaking in early adulthood, then gradually declining from around the age of 30 onwards. As a result, numerous age categories have been created to encourage younger and older athletes to engage in competition. At international level, there are three major categories for young athletes: Under-23 athletics, under-23, Under-20 athletics, under-20 (formerly junior), and Under-18 athletics, under-18 (formerly youth). Beyond international rules, different youth categories are in use in the sport, often in the form of two-year or single age groupings.Age group changes included in proposals for 2016 UKA rule book
''Athletics Weekly'' (2015-03-11). Retrieved 2019-04-20.
Age categories are more extensive for older athletes and these are commonly organised under the umbrella of masters athletics, which has age groups spanning five years for all athletes aged 35 and above. There is no limit to the number of age groupings, hence Stanisław Kowalski holds a world record for men aged 105 years and over. For competitions where age is not taken into account, this is known as senior or Open class (track and field), open class athletics; in international rules there remain some restrictions on younger people competing in endurance events for health reasons. Athletes' eligibility for a competitive age grouping is typically assessed through official documentation, such as birth records or passports. Instances of Age fabrication, age cheating have occurred at all of the IAAF's global age category championships. One prominent incident was Olympic medalist Thomas Longosiwa, who provided a falsified passport to compete at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Athletics at age 24. Age falsification for youth categories is mostly limited to less developed parts of the world, such as Africa and South Asia, which have less stringent controls on official documentation and many mature athletes engaging in high school competition due to disruptions to education. The same regions of the world also present issues with age verification in masters age categories, with examples such as Indian distance runners Dharampal Singh Gudha and Fauja Singh (both claiming to be over 100 years old) reaching mainstream attention.


Athletes with disabilities

Athletes with physical disability, physical disabilities have competed at separate international events since 1952. The International Paralympic Committee governs the competitions in athletics, and hosts the
Paralympic Games The Paralympic Games or Paralympics, also known as the ''Games of the Paralympiad'', is a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of physical disability, disabilities, including impaired muscle power ...
, which have continued since Athletics at the 1960 Summer Paralympics, 1960. Competitors at elite level competitions, are classified by disability, to arrange athletes with a similar disability in the same event. A classified T12 athlete for example, is a track athlete with a visual impairment. * F = Field athletes * T = Track athletes * 11–13 –
visual impairment Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment or vision loss, is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are vision eyew ...
. Compete with a sighted guide. * 20 – Intellectual disability * 31–38 –
cerebral palsy Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of movement disorders Movement disorder refers to any clinical syndrome with either an excess of movement or a paucity of voluntary and involuntary movements, unrelated to weakness or spasticity Spasticity () is ...

cerebral palsy
* 40–46 –
amputation Amputation is the removal of a limb Limb can refer to: *Limb (anatomy), an appendage of a human or animal *Limb Music, a record label *Limb (album), an album by Foetus *Limb, in astronomy, the curved edge of the apparent disk of a celestial body, ...

amputation
, and others (including athletes with dwarfism) * 51–58 – Wheelchair Operating independently of the Paralympic movement, deaf athletes have a long-established tradition of organised athletics, with the first major world competition being included at the 1924 Deaflympics. The primary impediments to the inclusion of deaf athletes in mainstream athletics are sound based elements of the sport, such as the starter's pistol. This can be a disadvantage even in Paralympic sport, as shown in by the example of Olivia Breen who failed to hear a false start in a cerebral palsy class race at the 2012 Paralympics. In wheelchair racing athletes compete in lightweight racing chairs. Most major marathons have wheelchair divisions and the elite racers consistently beat the runners on foot. The speed of wheel chair racers has caused difficulties for race organisers in properly staggering their start times compared to runners. A collision between Josh Cassidy (a wheelchair racer) and Tiki Gelana (a leading female marathoner) at the 2013 London Marathon brought the issue into the spotlight again. Occasionally, athletes with a disability reach a level at which they can compete against able-bodied athletes. Legally blind Marla Runyan ran in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and won a gold medal in the 1500 metres at the Athletics at the 1999 Pan American Games, 1999 Pan American Games. Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, was a semi-finalist at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, 2011 World Championships and won a silver medal as part of South Africa's 2011 World Championships in Athletics – Men's 4 × 400 metres relay, 4 × 400 metres relay team. In masters athletics it is far more common to make an accommodation for athletes with a disability. Blind Ivy Granstrom set numerous World records in masters athletics, Masters world records while being guided around the track. The disability categories have caused dispute among athletes, with some athletes being accused of exaggerating their level of disability in order to compete in less challenging categories. Athletes with intellectual disabilities were banned from competition in all Paralymic sports in response to verification issues and Cheating at the Paralympic Games, cheating at the 2000 Summer Paralympics and the intellectual disability athletics programme was only restored twelve years later at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.


Venues

Professional athletics almost exclusively takes place in one of three types of venue: stadiums, set courses on grass or woodland, and road-based courses. Such venues ensure that events take place in a relatively standardised manner, as well as improving the safety of athletes and enjoyment for spectators. At a more basic level, many forms of athletics demand very little in terms of venue requirements; almost any open space or area of field can provide a suitable venue for basic running, jumping and throwing competitions.


Track and field stadium

A standard outdoor track is in the shape of a Stadium (geometry), stadium, 400 metres in length, and has at least eight lanes 1.22 m in width (small arenas might have six lanes). Older track facilities may have nonstandard track lengths, such as 440 yards (402.3 m; 1/4 mile) (common in the United States). Historically, tracks were covered by a dirt running surface. Modern All-weather running tracks are covered by a synthetic weather-resistant running surface, which typically consists of rubber (either black SBR or colored EPDM granules), bound by polyurethane or latex resins. Older tracks may be cinder-covered. A standard indoor track is designed similarly to an outdoor track, but is only 200 metres in length and has between four and eight lanes, each with width between 0.90 m and 1.10 m. Often, the bends of an indoor track will be banked to compensate for the small turning radius. However, because of space limitations, indoor tracks may have other nonstandard lengths, such as 160-yard (146.3 m) indoor track at Madison Square Garden used for the Millrose Games. Because of space limitations, meetings held at indoor facilities do not hold many of athletics events typically contested outdoors.


Cross country courses

There is no standardised form of cross country course and each venue is significantly defined by the environment it contains – some may be relatively flat and featureless, while others may be more challenging with natural obstacles, tight turns, and undulating ground. While a small number of purpose-built courses exist, the vast majority of cross country running courses are created by cordoning a specific area within any open natural land, typically a park, woodland or Open space reserve, greenspace near a Human settlement, settlement.Competition Rules 2010–11
(pp. 227–28).
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 2010-05-31.
At the elite and professional level, courses must be looped and each lap must be between 1750 m and 2000 m in length. Severe obstacles such as deep ditches, high barriers and thick undergrowth not normally present; the course should be able to be completed whilst remaining on foot throughout. In order to maintain the sport's distinction from road running, the usage of unnatural or macadamised surfaces is generally kept to a minimum or avoided entirely. Because the majority of races take place on areas of grass, soil, mud or earth, weather conditions can significantly affect the difficulty of cross country courses, as snow and rain reduces traction and can create areas of standing water.


Road courses

The surface of road races is highly important and the IAAF dictate that the courses must be along man-made roads, bicycle paths or footpaths. Courses set along major roads of cities are typical of road running events, and traffic is usually cordoned off from the area during the competition. While soft ground, such as grass, is generally avoided, races may start and finish on soft ground or within a track and field stadium. Road racing courses come in two primary types: looped and point-to-point. Courses may be measured and designed to cover a standardised distance, such as , or they may simply follow a set route between two landmarks.Competition Rules 2010–11
pp. 224–26.
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 2010-05-31.
Road running courses over 5 km usually offer drinks or refreshment stations for runners at designated points alongside the course and medical professionals are present at the courses of major races due to the health risks involved with long-distance running. Elite road walks are conducted on closed loop courses (usually loops of 2,000 or 2,500 meters). Refreshment stations are also present over long distance walking competitions, with drinks being available on every lap for races longer than 10 km.Competition Rules 2010–11
(pp. 220–23).
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 2010-05-31.


Organizations

In 1912, the formation of the List of international sport federations, international governing body for athletics, the International Amateur Athletics Federation, began. In recognition of the movement of the sport from amateur sports, amateurism towards Professional sports, professionalism that began in the late 1970s, the word ''amateur'' was dropped from the name, and the organization was rebranded as the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2001. In late 2019, another rebranding began, with World Athletics as the new title of the governing body. World Athletics has 215 member nations and territories, which are divided into six continental areas (or area associations). The six association areas are for Asian Athletics Association, Asia, Confederation of African Athletics, Africa, European Athletics Association, Europe, Oceania Athletics Association, Oceania, North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association, North America and South American Athletics Confederation, South America. The sports within athletics do not have their own independent governing bodies at either international or continental level; instead, all fall under the athletics authorities.IAAF Member Federation Manual – Chapter 2
(pp. 17–18).
IAAF World Athletics (name since October 2019, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (from 1912 to 2001) and International Association of Athletics Federations (from 2001 to 2019), both abbreviated as the IAAF) is the intern ...
. Retrieved on 26 March 2010.
*   AAA – Asian Athletics Association *   CAA – Confederation of African Athletics *   CONSUDATLE – South American Athletics Confederation *   NACACAA – North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association *   EAA – European Athletics Association *   OAA – Oceania Athletics Association National level athletics organisations are responsible for the regulation of the sport within their respective countries and most major competitions have some form of permit or approval from their national body.


Competitions

Athletics competitions can be broadly divided into three types: international championships, national championships, and annual meetings and races. Athletics at international championships, or Games, represent the pinnacle of competition within the sport, and they are contested between athletes representing their country or region. The organisation of these competitions is usually overseen by either a world, continental, or regional athletics governing body. Athletes gain entry into these competitions by earning selection from their national athletics governing body, which is generally done by assessing athletes via their past achievements or performances at a national selection event. National championships are annual competitions endorsed by a national governing body which serve the purpose of deciding the country's best athlete in each event. Annual one-day meetings and races form the most basic level of competition and are the most common format of athletics contests. These events are often invitational and are organised by sports organisations, sports promoters, or other institutions. Competitions typically feature only one of the sports within athletics. However, major outdoor international athletics championships and athletics competitions held as part of
multi-sport events A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among organized teams of athletes from (mostly) nation-states A nation state is a state in which a great majorit ...
usually feature a combination of track and field, road running and racewalking events


International competitions


Multi-sport events

The modern Summer Olympics was the first event at which a global athletics competition took place. All the four major sports within athletics have featured in the Athletics at the Summer Olympics, Olympic athletics programme since its inception in 1896, although cross country has since been dropped. The Olympic competition is the most prestigious athletics contest, and many athletics events are among the most watched events at the Summer Olympics. A total of 47 athletics events are held at the Olympics, 24 for men and 23 for women (as of London 2012). The events within the men's and women's programmes are either identical or have a similar equivalent, with the sole exception being that men contest the 50 km race walk. Following the model of the Olympics, various other
multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in Alexandria, Egypt Sports clubs *AC Sporting, a football club from Beirut, Lebanon *Alexandria Sporting Club, a sp ...
s arose during the 20th century, which included athletics as a core sport within the programme from the outset. These included the Athletics at the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Games, the Athletics at the Central American and Caribbean Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, Athletics at the Universiade, Universiade, and many others. The Summer Paralympics include athletes with a
physical disability A physical disability is a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other physical disabilities A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effecti ...
. Track and field, and road events have featured in the Athletics at the Paralympic Games, Paralympic athletics programme since its inception in 1960. The Paralympic competition is the most prestigious athletics contest where athletes with a physical disability compete. Athletics at the Paralympic Games also include wheelchair racing where athletes compete in lightweight racing chairs. Athletes with a
visual impairment Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment or vision loss, is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are vision eyew ...
compete with a sighted guide. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, for the first time at an international athletics event, the guides received medals, such as the pilots in cycling, and the guides at the Paralympic Winter Games have done for a while.


World championships

The
World Athletics Championships The World Athletics Championships are a biennial Athletics (sport), athletics competition organized by World Athletics (formerly IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federations). The World Championships were started in 1976 in response ...
is the primary global athletics championships held by World Athletics. The biennial competition was first held in 1983 and now features an event programme which is identical to the Olympics. Thus, road running, racewalking and track and field are the sports which feature at the competition. Cross country running has its own discrete global championships – the IAAF World Cross Country Championships – which has been held annually since 1973. The IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics is a biennial athletics championships which features solely indoor track and field events. The foremost separate road running event is the annual IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (formerly World Road Running Championships). While not having official world championship status, the biennial IAAF World Race Walking Cup fulfils a similar role for the sport of racewalking. Outdoor track and field is the only sport in athletics that does not have a its own distinct global championship which is separate from other types of athletics, although the IAAF Continental Cup (a quadrennial competition between continental teams) is composed entirely of outdoor track and field events. Other world championships include the IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics, IAAF World Junior and IAAF World Youth Championships in Athletics, World Youth Championships in Athletics, which are for athletes under-19 and under-17, respectively. World Masters Athletics conducts the World Masters Athletics Championships for athletes in 5-year age divisions over the age of 35. The now defunct IAAF World Road Relay Championships served as the global event for ekiden marathon relay races. Elite athletes with a physical disability compete at the
World Para Athletics Championships The World Para Athletics Championships, known as the IPC Athletics World Championships prior to 2017, are a biennial Paralympic athletics Para-athletics is the sport of athletics Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves compet ...
.


Culture and media

Athletics, and its athletes in particular, has been artistically depicted since ancient times – one of the surviving instances include runners and high jumpers in the motifs of Ancient Egyptian tombs dating from 2250 BC. Athletics was much respected in Ancient Greece and the events within the ancient pentathlon provided inspiration for large statues such as the Discobolus and Discophoros, and for motifs on countless vase and pottery works. Aristotle discussed the significance of the pentathlon in his treatise ''Rhetoric (Aristotle), Rhetoric'' and reflected on the athlete aesthetic of the period: "a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength...This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful".Ancient Olympic Events; Pentathlon
Perseus digital library. Retrieved on 2009-08-03.
Films about athletics are overwhelmingly focused on running events: the 1962 film ''The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (film), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner'' (based on the The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, book of the same name) explores cross country running as a means of escape. ''Chariots of Fire'', perhaps one of the most well-known athletics films, is a fictionalised account of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams's chase for sprint gold medals at the Athletics at the 1924 Summer Olympics, 1924 Olympics. Track and field has been the subject of American films such as ''Personal Best (film), Personal Best'' (1981) and ''Across the Tracks'' (1991). Biopics are found within the genre, including ''Prefontaine (film), Prefontaine'' (regarding Steve Prefontaine) and ''Jim Thorpe – All-American'' (1951) featuring Burt Lancaster as Thorpe. Documentaries are also common with examples such as 2007 film ''Spirit of the Marathon'', which follows runners' preparations for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Books on the subject are predominantly non-fiction, and tend towards the forms of training manuals and historical accounts of athletics. The story of the four-minute mile has been a particularly popular subject, spawning books such as ''The Perfect Mile'' and ''3:59.4: The Quest to Break the Four Minute Mile''. Athletics journalism has spawned a number of dedicated periodicals including ''Athletics Weekly'' and ''Race Walking Record'', both of which were first published in England in the early 1940s, and ''Track & Field News'' which was first published in the United States in 1948. ''Runner's World'' has been in print since 1966 and the ''Track & Field Magazine of Japan'' (''Rikujyo Kyogi Magazine'') is another long-running publication. Athletics events have been selected as a main motif in numerous collectors' coins. One of the recent samples is the €10 Greek Euro gold and silver commemorative coins (Greece)#2003 coinage, Running commemorative coin, minted in 2003 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics. In the obverse of the coin, a modern athlete figure appears in the foreground, shown in the starting position, while in the background two ancient runners are carved in a manner that gives the appearance of a coin that is "worn" by time. This scene originally appeared on a black-figure vase of the 6th century BC.


See also

* List of Olympic medalists in athletics (men), List of Olympic medalists in athletics (women), (women) * List of world records in athletics * List of IPC world records in athletics, World records in athletics (athletes with a disability) * National records in athletics * Association of Track and Field Statisticians * Running in Ancient Greece *
USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships The USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships is an annual track and field Track and field is a sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical abi ...


References


External links

*
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
website
''Track and Field News''
website
European Athletics
website
GBR Athletics
– historical competition data
Masters World Rankings
* This provides a detailed, although Anglocentric, overview of the history of the sport. {{DEFAULTSORT:Athletics (Sport) Sport of athletics, Summer Olympic sports Individual sports Athletic sports Athletic culture based on Greek antiquity Books about sports Track and Field books