The History Of Track And Field

962 words - 4 pages

Track and Field events, also known as athletics, have progressed a great deal since their birth in Olympus, around the ninth century B.C. More athletes and more nationalities compete in Track and Field than in any other Olympic sport. Athletics is one of the largest attractions at the Modern Olympics, drawing in huge crowds of spectators and creating interest at summer Olympics. Track and Field events have come a long way since the Ancient Greek Olympic games. Many events and techniques have been revised, added, or eliminated since the original Greek Olympics. The Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” is describing the Track and Field events in Latin. The Latin means “ Faster (Swifter), Higher, Stronger,” and indicates the running, jumping, and throwing events.
     Running events were a major part of the Ancient Olympic games. The running events were said to have held the greatest ritualistic importance at the Ancient Olympics. The runners raced nude because they thought that they could run faster without the weight of their clothes. The competition started the shortest races first and worked up to the longest races. The shortest race was called a “stade” or one length of the stadium, where the first Olympic games were held. It is believed that the length of the stadium track was about 200 yards long and about 30 yards wide. The next race was a “double flute”, or twice the length of the stadium. Intermediate races of no more than 1500 meters followed the short races. Records show that only one long distance race took place, a distance of just over two miles. In the data, which is available from that period, it has been shown that the number of footraces was no more than six or seven per Olympic Games. This has changed greatly in the modern Olympics. The winner of these Ancient Olympic races would be rewarded with an olive branch crown. Another type of footrace, called the hoplite, was introduced rather late in the history of the Ancient Olympics. The race was of about two “stades” undertaken while wearing battle armor composed of round shields and plumed helmets. Racing over hurdles was not at all part of the Greeks’ knowledge during the Ancient Olympics. It was established later in the modern Olympic trials.
     Another Track and Field event is the long jump. This event differed very greatly from the jumping we see today. The jumpers would have a running start and be holding weights in their hands for momentum purposes. The use of the weights, which were swung about during the run and jump, caused the jumper to have a much larger distance than the athletes of the modern Olympics. In fact, the ancient jumping events are highly controversial because of the ludicrous records found about the distance of the jumps in ancient Greece. One record states that a contestant...

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