The First Track Meets The first organized examples of track and field events were at the Ancient Olympic Games. The first games took place in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The “Stade” was the only event that was ran at the time. This was a 200 yard race ran in a small stadium which consisted of a packed earth track. Officials would declare the winner and if the race was a tie there would be a re-run.
The Marathon The marathon was not an event of the ancient Olympic games. The marathon is a modern event that was first introduced in the Modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens, a race from Marathon – northeast of Athens – to the Olympic Stadium, a distance of 42.195 kilometers. The race commemorates the run of Pheidippides, an ancient “day-runner” who carried the news of the Persian landing at Marathon of 490 BC to Sparta (a distance of 149 miles) in order to enlist help for the battle. According to the fifth century BC ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides delivered the news to the Spartans the next day.
Events From 776 BC, the Games were held in Olympia every four years for almost 12 centuries. Additional athletic events were gradually added until, by the 5th century BC, the religious festival consisted of a five-day program. The athletic events included: three foot races (stadion, diaulos, and dolichos) as well as the pentathlon (five contests: discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, and foot race), pugme (boxing), pale (wrestling), pankration, and the hoplitodromos. Additional events, both equestrian and for humans, were added throughout the course of the history of the Olympic Games
Banned Rules If charged with professionalism, athletes could be banned from competition for life. In 1913 American Jim Thorpe was stripped of his 1912 Olympic victories in the decathlon and pentathlon and banned from further competition after it was learned he had played semiprofessional baseball. In 1982 the International Olympic Committee [IOC] posthumously restored both Thorpe’s amateur status and his two Olympic medals.
Developing Teams Beginning in the 1920s track and field’s scope widened. The first NCAA national championships were held for men in 1921, and women’s track and field became part of the Olympic Games in 1928. In 1952 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) sent its first Olympic team ever to the Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland, where the squad captured several track-and-field medals. Over the next 30 years the U.S. and Soviet teams battled in one of the sport’s longest and most competitive rivalries.
International Track Association During that time the U.S.-based International Track Association (ITA) organized a professional track circuit. The venture, although popular among fans, went bankrupt after several years. Few athletes wanted to participate in ITA competitions because athletes were actually receiving larger illegal payments for appearing at amateur meets than legitimate professionals were making on the new circuit. Many athletes also turned away from ITA competition because it disqualified them from participating in future Olympic Games
International Amateur Athletics Federation The Athletics Congress now regulates the sport in the United States; the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) sanctions international competition. Track and field has been the centerpiece of the summer Olympic games since their revival in 1896. International professional running, initiated in the 1970s, has had limited success.
Evolution of Track Track and Field history has seen an evolution involving the running surfaces, shoes and types of races. The sport continues to grow at the amateur and professional level and is highlighted by the Olympics every four years…So goes the history of track and field.
Works Cited "History of Track and Field :: Article - Sports Directory." SportsWeb.us - Sports Directory. Web. 04 May 2011. <http://www.sportsweb.us/articles/History-of-Track-and-Field-a51.html>. "Track and Field." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_and_field>. Web. <http://www.athleticscholarships.net/history-of-track-and-field.htm>.