Athletics is an exclusive collection of sporting events that involve competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking.
The most common types of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and race walking. The simplicity of the competitions, and the lack of a need for expensive equipment, makes athletics one of the most commonly competed 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 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 conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations and its member federations.
Types of Athletics
Track and field
A typical track and field stadium with an oval running track and a grassy inner field
Track and field competitions emerged in the late 19th century and were typically contested between athletes who were representing rival educational institutions, military organizations and sports clubs.Men and women compete separately.
Track and field comes in both indoor and outdoor formats, with most indoor competitions occurring in winter, while outdoor events are mostly held in summer. The sport is defined by the venue in which the competitions are held in the track and field stadium.
A variety of running events are held on the track which fall into three broad distance categories: sprints, middle-distance, and long-distance track events.
Relay races feature teams comprising four runners each, who must pass a baton to their team-mate after a specified distance with the aim of being the first team to finish. Decathlon (typically competed by men) and heptathlon (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.
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, 10 km and 5 km.
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 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 4 km (2.5 mi) 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.
Race walking is a form of competitive walking that usually takes place on open-air roads, although running tracks are also occasionally used.
Race walking is the only sport in athletics in which judges monitor athletes on their technique. Race walkers 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.
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