The history of track and field traces back to the earliest of times. People have been walking, running or throwing things since the beginning of man. Competition as a natural means of manhood took root and individuals began to run against one another. The first race of record is noted to have taken place at the first Olympic Festival in Ancient Rome in 776 B.C. It was said to have been a stadium race or one length around the stadium.
During these times the Olympics remained the main stage for all track and field events and it only showcased such events every four years. The events began to evolve over the centuries as a number of new track competitions were incorporated as well as non track and field events. The pentathlon consisting of five events, boxing, wrestling and foot races of varying length were installed into the early Olympics. It is often said that the ancient Roman and Greek warriors often incorporated running into there training. Daily doses of running through hills, jousting, wrestling and hand to hand combat were routine forms of training.
It wasn’t until the eighteen hundreds that the history of track and field began to formally organize as grade schools and Universities began to incorporate daily exercise and running routines. Track and Field history was so evidently rooted in Ancient Greek and Roman times then it slowly began to evolve into English culture. It was said that the first college competition was held between Oxford and Cambridge in 1864.
Track and field began to modernize around the time of the first modern day Olympic Games in 1896. Modern day track and field events take place around a four hundred meter track and the remaining field events are usually occurring at the same time inside that track.
It was around the early 1900’s that a number of leagues and associations began to form. International and domestic leagues began and held the athletes amateur status so that they could compete in the Olympics. Despite this the sport continued to grow in the early years and held the first NCAA Championships in 1921.
Ironically one of track and fields most popular events the marathon wasn’t even introduced until the 1896 games in Athens, Greece. It got the name marathon as the race started in the town of Marathon and continued on to the Olympic Stadium.
Track and field continued to deal with the issues of amateur status among its athletes for years to come and it held back the development of the sport. It wasn’t until 1970’s that the professional stature was formed so that athletes can compete annually in events while getting paid and still be able to compete in the Olympics.
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.