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Athletics is one of the oldest and most popular sports in the world, having been practised since the time of Ancient Greece. But do you know everything about it?

In this complete and up-to-date article, we’ll explain the history, rules, disciplines and main competitions of this ancient sport that involves running, jumping, throwing and hurdling.

This way, you’ll be able to follow the events without getting lost, especially at the Olympics, the most famous sporting event on the planet.

Check it out 👇

History of athletics

Athletics is the oldest sport practised by human beings. The sport is believed to have emerged in Ancient Greece, from 776 BC, with the appearance of the first Olympic Games.

In the first edition of the tournament, a race of approximately 192 metres was contested between the competitors, with Coroebus becoming champion. From then on, more disciplines began to be included in the event.

After the Romans conquered Greece, interest in the Olympics waned and the championship was abolished by Emperor Theodosius. However, numerous physical activities, such as running and wrestling, continued to be practised during the Roman Empire.

The Renaissance brought with it a resurgence of interest in physical culture and outdoor activities, boosting athletics in Europe.

In the 19th century, the formation of athletic clubs and the standardisation of rules contributed to the development of the category across the globe.

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The modern Olympic Games, initiated in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin, were fundamental in consolidating athletics as a global practice.

Throughout the 20th century, new disciplines were added to the event. In this way, athletics evolved and professionalised, becoming an essential part of national, regional and international multi-sport events.

Athletics events

salto triplo
Athletics events

Athletics has more than 20 categories divided into four main segments: running, jumping, throwing and combined events.

In races, such as the 100 metres, 110 metres, marathon and walk, the aim is to cross the finish line as quickly as possible.

Jumping events, such as the long jump, pole vault and triple jump, consist of jumping over a horizontal bar without knocking it over. The height of the bar gradually increases until there is only one competitor left.

In the throwing events, the premise is simple: throw an object as far as possible, using the strength of your body and, above all, your balance.

Finally, combined events mix more than one discipline. A famous example is the heptathlon, made up of seven competitions: 100 metres hurdles, high jump, weight throw, 200 metres, long jump, javelin throw and 800 metres.

List of athletics disciplines (races)

  • 100m
  • 200m
  • 400m
  • 800m
  • 1.500m
  • 5.000m
  • 10.000m
  • 110m hurdles
  • 400m hurdles
  • 3.000m steeplechase
  • Revezamento 4×100m relay
  • Revezamento 4×400m relay
  • Marathon
  • 20km walk

List of athletics disciplines (jumps)

  • High jump
  • Pole vault
  • Long jump
  • Triple jump

List of athletics disciplines (throwing)

  • Shot put
  • Discus throw
  • Hammer throw
  • Javelin throw

Lista de modalidades do atletismo (combined events)

  • Decathlon
  • Heptathlon

Athletics stadiums

modalidades do atletismo 100 metros
Pista de atletismo

Athletics events are usually held in Olympic stadiums. These arenas are equipped with specific facilities to make it possible for the various disciplines of the sport to take place.

The athletics track is the centrepiece of the stadium, comprising a circular running surface that runs through the infield. It is made of synthetic material such as tartan or polyurethane.

The track is divided into lanes numbered from 1 to 8, with lane 1 being the closest to the centre. Each lane has a standard width of 1.22 metres.

The track has straights and curves. The straights are used for 100m, 200m and 400m races, while the bends are used for longer distance races.

The inner part of the stadium is used for jumping and throwing competitions. There are specific venues for each type of event.

The long jump track, for example, is on the side of the stadium. The javelin throw, on the other hand, uses a large part of the centre lawn.

Major athletics championships

The Olympic Games, held every four years, are the main athletics event in the world. The gold medal in this competition is the most coveted prize for athletes in the sport.

The second most important athletics event is the World Athletics Championships, held every two years.

There are also the Paralympic Games and the World Paralympic Athletics Championships, which promote inclusion in sport.

Now you know all about athletics and are ready to watch all the sport’s most important competitions! Did you like this content? Let us know what you think in the comments! And don’t forget to visit us whenever you can 👊

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