We explain what athletics is, how it originated, and what are the tests that make it up. In addition, its characteristics and famous athletes.

What is Athletics?

Considered by many to be the oldest organized sport in the world , athletics consists of the practice of a series of diverse physical disciplines, such as running, throwing, jumping and marching, as well as their combined forms, through a number of sporting events. consecutive.

It takes place in stadiums, usually outdoors , and requires a series of implements such as javelins, poles, discs, hammers, fences and obstacles, as well as a group of specialist judges who observe the performance of the athletes and the competition. Some of them deal with the stopwatch, with which they measure the elapsed times and can set the records.

Today athletics is part of the professional sports disciplines and has a field of important prestige , especially for its inclusion in the Olympic Games that take place every four years in a different place on the planet.

Characteristics of athletics :



Like so many other things, athletics comes from classical antiquity, from Greece . The first mention of it dates from the year 776 BC, from a list of Greek athletes who won sports games. However, many of the sports disciplines it contained were already common in previous civilizations, such as the Egyptians or the Minoans.

The Greeks were devoted to competition and organized different games (Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian, Panathean, etc.) to choose their most skilled men and give them glory by crowning them with laurels.

Initially there was no other prize than this, but in classical times some of them began to give the victorious a black varnished amphora , filled with good oil and engraved with motifs referring to the sport in which they had won. Those are the ancestors of our modern cups and trophies.


The word “athlete” comes from the Greek word  á ethlos , which means “fighter or competitor” , and which passed into Latin as  athlete . Words such as  athletics were derived from there , which would literally mean "competition".

History of athletics

history of athletics

The first known meeting of modern athletics took place in 1825 in England , a country where races and sporting competitions had been frequent during medieval and Victorian times . Initially, only those considered  gentlemen could compete , that is, neither workers, nor artisans, nor women, nor professional athletes.

The sport abandoned its links with gambling and the world of money and gave itself over to the sporting spectacle , which in the case of athletics was restricted to amateurism, that is, professional practitioners of any sport could not compete. Finally, in 1982, these requirements were abandoned when considering the preparatory efforts required to develop an athlete.


Athletics was among the Olympic sports disciplines since its revival in contemporary times , in 1896, in Athens. From then on, this sport will increase its devotees throughout the world, in an explosion of athletics federations and important world championships.

Athletics events

athletics events

Under the name of athletics, a series of different sporting events are brought together, which we detail below:

  • Foot races.  Competitions where the agility, speed and resistance of the competitors who start from a finish line and travel a certain distance to see who arrives first are put to the test. It can be a sprint race (100-meter flat), long-distance race (more than 3,000 meters) or middle distance (800 to 3,000 meters), road races, cross-country, hurdles (with obstacles), relays or race walking. (between 20 and 50 km).
  • jumps.  Helped with a pole or simply gaining momentum to jump further, these are tests in which length or height are the limits to overcome. It can be pole vault, long jump, triple jump or high jump.
  • Releases. In this case, the athlete must throw an object of controlled weight and dimensions to measure who can make it go the furthest. This sport is inspired by the ancestral hunting dynamics of the human being and consists of the variants: discus throw, javelin throw, hammer throw and shot put.
  • Combined tests. They are those that mix various disciplines, such as the decathlon, which is made up of ten athletics events: four races (100m, 400m, 110m hurdles and 1500m), three jumps (long, high and pole), and three throws (weight, discus and javelin). These tests are measured with points and at the end overall winners are chosen.

Athletics rules

Strict laws are currently enacted regarding this sport to ensure the fairness and fairness of the tests and the openness of the effort of the athletes. This goes through thorough searches of the competitors, who are given a warm-up area before entering the exercise , and the opportunity to participate barefoot or shod. They must have their equipment provided by an athletics federation attached to the central guild, and are controlled against doping.

Athletes represent their federation and their nation , a matter also subject to regulations since in cases of change of nationality or dual nationality, the athlete must wait 3 years before representing another nation in a competition.

Main skills

Main skills

Beyond the Olympic Games held every 4 years, there are several important international competitions in the field, such as the World Athletics Championships started in 1983 , or the World Indoor Athletics Championships opened in 1985 in Paris.

In addition, the federations organize constant continental competitions , known as the Asian Championships, the European Championships , etc. and, logically, there are also national competitions organized by each particular athletics federation.



Athletics records have been officially kept since 1912 , at least those of the male gender, by the IAAF. Prior to this, there was no unified regulation to establish records. The first list of top marks was published in 1914 and in 1936 women's athletics also began to be recorded. This institution ensures that the records are measured with the same method and under rigid standards that do not allow ambiguity or doubt.

International athletics organization

The main authority that oversees the coordination, protection and regulation of professional athletes in this discipline is called the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and was founded in 1912 by amateur athletics delegations from 17 different nations, in a congress held in Sweden.

Its current headquarters are in Monaco, since October 1993 , and since 1982 it has proceeded to change certain rules of the discipline to allow athletes to receive financial compensation for their efforts.

 Most famous athletes

Some of the most outstanding athletes of the discipline are:

  • Carl Lewis. American, outstanding in the speed race.
  • Pavo Nurmi. Finn, long and middle distance runner who, along with Ville Ritola and Hannes Kolehmainen, were nicknamed "the flying Finns" in the mid- 20th century .
  • Emil Zatopek. Czechoslovakian, champion of the 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon at the 1952 Olympics.
  • Carolina Kluft. Swedish, contemporary queen of the heptathlon.
  • Yelena Isinbayeva. Russian, outstanding pole vaulter.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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