Track and field events, the oldest organized sports, have been contested for thousands of years. The first organized meets recorded in history were the Olympian Games, which the Greeks initiated in 776 BC. For many years the chief Olympian competition was the pentathlon, which comprised discus and javelin throwing, foot racing, broad jumping, and wrestling. Other contests, including foot races for men clad in full armor, were later added to the program. The Romans continued to hold the Olympian contests after they conquered Greece in 146 BC. In AD 394 the games were abolished by the Roman emperor Theodosius I and for eight centuries thereafter no organized competitions were held. Revived in England about the middle of the 12th century, track and field gradually became a favorite English sport. In 1834 a group of English enthusiasts agreed on the minimum standards of performance expected in certain track and field events, notably the 440-yd run (60 sec), 1-mi run (5 min), 2-mi run (10 min), broad jump (20 ft), and high jump (5 ft 6 in). Other 19th-century landmarks in track and field included the first university meet, held in 1864 between Oxford and Cambridge universities, and the first national meet, in London in 1866. In 1896 the Olympic Games, a modified revival of the Olympian Games, were initiated in Athens. Thereafter, the games have been held every four years, except during the world wars. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), founded in 1913 and with headquarters in London, is the governing body of international track and field competition. The IAAF establishes rules and approves world records.
The first U.S. amateur meet was held indoors in 1868. Track and field subsequently gained a large following in the U.S., and in 1876 a number of eastern colleges formed the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America. The Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, serving the needs of collegians and noncollegians alike, was founded in 1888. A rival group, the U.S. Track and Field Federation, began holding meets in the 1960s. In 1980 The Athletics Congress/USA (TAC/USA) became the national governing body of track and field in the U.S.; the organization changed its name to USA Track & Field in 1993.
"Track and Field." Encyclopedia. Today’s Science. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 9 June 2011. http://www.2facts.com/article/xtr077500a.
Olympic Track and Field Events
Track and field events have always been considered the crown jewel of the Olympic Games. The following events are contested by both men and women: 100-m, 200-m, 400-m, 800-m, 1500-m, 5000-m, and 10,000-m runs; 20,000-m (about 12.4-mi) walk; 400-m hurdles; 400-m (4 x 100) and 1600-m (4 x 400) relays; marathon; and high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, and hammer throw. In addition, the men compete in the 3000-m steeplechase, the 50,000-m (about 31-mi) walk, the 110-m hurdles, and decathlon. The women also compete in the 100-m hurdles and heptathlon.
"Track and Field." Encyclopedia. Today’s Science. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 9 June 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/article/xtr077500a>.