THE ATHLETICS PORTAL
Athletics is a 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 results of racing events are decided by finishing position (or time, where measured), while the jumps and throws are won by the athlete that achieves the highest or furthest measurement from a series of attempts. 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.
The athletics meeting forms the backbone of the Summer Olympics. The foremost international athletics meeting is the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, which incorporates track and field, marathon running and race walking. Other top level competitions in athletics include the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Athletes with a physical disability compete at the Summer Paralympics and the World Para Athletics Championships.
The word athletics is derived from the Ancient Greek ἀθλητής (athlētēs, "combatant in public games") from ἆθλον (athlon, "prize") or ἆθλος (athlos, "competition"). Initially, the term was used to describe athletic contests in general – i.e. sporting competition based primarily on human physical feats. In the 19th century, the term athletics acquired a more narrow definition in Europe and came to describe sports involving competitive running, walking, jumping and throwing. This definition continues to be the most prominent one in the United Kingdom and most of the areas of the former British Empire. Furthermore, foreign words in many Germanic and Romance languages which are related to the term athletics also have a similar meaning.
In much of North America, athletics is synonymous with sports in general, maintaining a more historical usage of the term. The word "athletics" is rarely used to refer to the sport of athletics in this region. Track and field is preferred, and is used in the United States and Canada to refer to most athletics events, including racewalking and marathon running (although cross country running is typically considered as a separate sport).
It's from the first edition (1896 Summer Olympics), that Athletics has been considered the "Queen" of the Olympics. Since then there have been a series of competitions organized at world level, than at the continental level. Furthermore, the Athletics is the main sport of nearly all multi-sport events such as Universiade, Mediterranean Games or Pan American Games. The following list refers to the main Athletics competitions that take place in the world.
Starting blocks are a device used in the sport of Track and Field, known worldwide as Athletics, by sprinters to hold their feet at the start of a race so they don't slip as they push out at the sound of the gun. For most levels of competition, including all high level International competition, starting blocks are now mandatory equipment for the start of sprint races. The first starting blocks are credited to being invented by Australian Charlie Booth and his father in 1929. Prior to their invention, runners would dig holes in the dirt track. Trowels were provided at the start of races. This was not the most consistent or stable system. It also was destructive to the track surface with the holes having to be filled for subsequent runners.
Wood was the first material used, with some tracks having permanently placed wooden structures at the start line. Portable blocks were held by long metal spikes that needed to be pounded into the ground. These devices evolved to metal blocks. The common blocks of the 1960s were heavy and adjusted by screws that were frequently broken or became rusted over the years. Lighter weight blocks were made of sheet metal. The rubberized surfaces of new All-weather running tracks that became common starting in the 1970s, made the old blocks even less secure.
Paavo Johannes Nurmi (pronunciation (help·info)) (13 June 1897 – 2 October 1973) was a Finnish runner. Born in Turku, he was known as one of the "Flying Finns," a term given to him, Hannes Kolehmainen, Ville Ritola, and others for their distinction in running. During the 1920s, Nurmi was the best middle and long distance runner in the world, setting world records at distances between 1500 m and 20 km. Nurmi won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928. In particular, he won five gold medals at the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris, becoming the most successful athlete in a single Olympic event in the history. In 1932, Nurmi was unable to compete at the Olympics, as he had received money for his running and was thus considered a professional. Nurmi debuted at the 1920 Summer Olympics by competing in four events. He won three gold medals: the 10,000 m, the cross country event, and the cross country team event; and he finished second in the 5000 m. In the 1924, Nurmi won five gold medals in five events, including the 1500 m and the 5000 m. The finals of the two races were only 26 minutes apart. At a try-out earlier the same year, he had broken the world record in both of these events and the 3000 m team race, and again both cross country events. It was the last time these cross country events were held, as the great heat caused more than half of the competitors to abandon the race, and many had to be taken to hospital. Nurmi ended his Olympic career at the 1928 Summer Olympics, winning the 10,000 m and two silver medals (5000 m and 3000 m steeplechase).
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