Track and Field History
Athletics was the original event at the first
Olympics back in
776 BCE where the only event held was the stadium-length foot
race or "stade".
There were several other "Games" held throughout Europe in the
Roman Games – Arising from Etruscan rather than purely
Greek roots, the Roman Games deemphasized footraces and throwing.
Instead, the Greek sports of chariot racing and wrestling, as well
as the Etruscan sport of gladiatorial combat, took center
Other peoples enjoyed athletic contests, such as the
Celts, Teutons and
Goths who succeeded the
Romans. However, these were often related to combat
training, and were not very well organized. In the Middle Ages the
sons of noblemen would be trained in running, leaping and
wrestling, in addition to riding, jousting and arms-training.
Contests between rivals and friends may have been common on both
official and unofficial grounds. Many athletic sports have found
favour in Europe throughout the ages. However, in Britain they
fell out of favour between the 13th and 16th centuries due to
government restrictions on sports aiming to reduce the practice
of archery. After this ban was lifted in the
17th century sports began to flourish once more, but it was
not until the 19th century that organization began to appear.
This included the incorporation of regular sports and
exercise into school regimes. The Royal
Military College, Sandhurst has claimed to be the first
to adopt this in 1812 and 1825 but without any supporting
evidence. The earliest recorded meeting was organised at
1840 by the Royal Shrewsbury
School Hunt. There are details of the meeting in a series
of letters written 60 years later by CT Robinson who was a
pupil there from 1838 to 1841.
Modern athletic events are usually organized around a 400 metre
running track, on which most of the running events take place.
Field events (vaulting, jumping, and throwing) often take place in
the field in the centre of the running track.
Many athletic events have an ancient origin and were already
conducted in competitive form by the ancient Greeks. Athletics
was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has
been part of the program ever since, providing the backbone of
the Olympics. Women were not allowed to participate in track and
field events in the Olympics until 1928. An international
governing body, the IAAF was founded in
1912. The IAAF established separate outdoor World Championships
in 1983. Other major events include the
World Indoor Championships and the European
Championships. The sport has a very high profile during major
championships, especially the Olympics, but otherwise ranks well
down the list of sports by public interest in almost all countries.
The leading regular circuit of events takes place in Europe each
summer, and includes the Golden League
The AAU (Amateur
Athletic Union) was the governing body in the United States
until it collapsed under pressure from advancing professionalism
in the late 1970s. A new governing body called The Athletics
Congress (TAC) was formed, it was later renamed USA Track and
Field (USATF or USA T&F). An additional, less structured
organization, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) also exists
in the USA to promote road racing. Both organizations allow
athletes to receive money for racing putting an end to the