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Tuesday, 02 January 2007 01:03

Athletics - History

 Early pole vault event
The word athletics comes from the Greek "athlos" meaning "contest"

The word athletics comes from the Greek "athlos" meaning "contest". A track running race, known as the "stade", was the first and only event at the first ancient Olympics in 776BC.

Later, more running distances were added, along with the long jump and a pentathlon event which introduced the discus and javelin.

The end of the ancient Olympics in AD393 also saw the end of organised athletics for more than 1,400 years. Running, jumping and throwing competitions continued, however, on an informal basis in most civilised cultures, often as a part of military training.

Interest in the Olympics was revived when archaeologists excavated ancient Olympia towards the end of the 19th century. Baron Pierre de Coubertain founded the International Olympic Committee in Paris in 1894, and the first modern Olympics followed in Athens two years later.

Track and field athletics was a major part of Athens 1896, although women did not compete until the 1928 Amsterdam Games, and then only in five events. The men's programme has varied, but has become relatively standardised at all major games since 1928. Women's events, however, have gradually increased in number to almost match the men's.

The recent addition of women's pole vault, triple jump and 3,000m steeplechase means the only exclusively male event is now the 50km race walk, although the women run over a shorter distance in the sprint hurdles, over lower hurdles in both events, and take part in a seven-event heptathlon rather than a 10-event decathlon.

The International Amateur Athletics Federation was formed in 1912 as a world governing body. IAAF has staged its own World Championships since 1983, allowing prize money from 1982. In 2001, it changed its name to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Athletics has been a part of every Asian Games, starting at New Delhi, India, in 1951.

 
 

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