Track and Field Events and Tracks
Track and field is a sport that involves athletic competition in running, jumping, throwing and other activities. It is primarily a team sport, though individual events are sometimes included in the Olympic Games.
The sport has its origins in ancient Greece, where competitive running and jumping were first recorded around 205 BC. During the period of Classical antiquity, some of the oldest events in modern track and field were developed, including the javelin and the discus. The hammer throw and the shot put are examples of early throwing events that were also precursors to today’s long jump and high jump. The decathlon and heptathlon are combined track and field events in which athletes compete in several different events.
When the Amateur Athletic Union was founded in the United States in 1887, track and field became a formalized sport. Athletes began competing against other amateur athletes for medals, which set a precedent for modern-day sports that award financial compensation to professional winners.
At the high school level, most states offer a variety of track and field events for both boys and girls. Most schools run outdoor seasons during spring, and many also have a winter indoor season. Athletes are generally allowed to participate in four different events at each meet, and over time, athletes learn which ones they excel in and enjoy most.
For high school events, athletes compete in a variety of races, both short distances and middle or long distances. The 800 meters and 1500 meters are common mid-distance races, while the 3000 meters and 10,000 meters are long distance races. Relays are a popular event in which a team of athletes competes against other teams. Athletes on a relay team compete in individual legs of a race, and the team wins when all members have finished their legs. Athletes exchange a baton in a designated area before the start of each leg. Athletes are disqualified if they fail to make their change in the required area or drop the baton during a race.
In addition to the standard events, many high school track and field programs include a steeplechase, in which competitors must race over large hurdle-like obstacles while running around a track. Other events that are rarely included in competitions are the race walk, in which competitors go long distances, such as 20 or 50 kilometers, but cannot run—one or both feet must remain on the ground at all times. The marathon is another rare event, although it is sometimes included in the Olympics.
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