What does Athletics Mean?

In the Greek we find the etymological origin of the term athletics. Specifically, we can determine that it comes from athletes, which is defined as “that person who competes in a specific event for a prize.” And all this without forgetting either that said Greek word emanates in turn, is related to the word aethos, which is synonymous with effort.

The athletics, considered the oldest form of organized sport, is a set of sporting events which are divided into races, jumps and throws. The first historical reference of athletics dates back to 776 BC in Greece, with a list of the winning athletes of a competition.


Within athletics we find various types of tests. Thus, there are foot races (speed, middle distance, long distance, hurdles, cross country, relays…), long or high jumps, throws (weight, javelin, hammer…), athletic walking, and combined tests. The latter are also known as decathlon and, as their name suggests, they consist of ten events: three throwing, three jumping and four racing.

The main Olympic event of antiquity was a test known as a stadion, which consisted of traveling a distance of between 190 and 200 meters that separated two lines of marble (representing the start and finish).

Over the years, other athletic events appeared, such as the diaulos (a round-trip competition) and the pentathlon (which included discus and javelin throws, races, long jump and wrestling).

After conquering Greece in 146 BC, the Romans continued to develop the Olympic trials, although in 394 Emperor Theodosius abolished the games in a decision that spanned eight centuries.

In 1834, the English agreed to impose a series of minimum marks to be able to compete in certain athletic events. Sixty-two years later, in Athens, the Olympic Games were restarted, albeit with certain modifications.

Another important year for athletics was 1913, when the International Amateur Athletics Federation (now the International Association of Athletics Federations – IAAF) was founded. Today, the IAAF is the governing body for athletics competitions worldwide, in charge of setting the rules and awarding the official status to marks obtained by athletes.

Many are the athletes who have already gone down in the annals of the history of this sporting discipline. This would be the case of the following:

Carl Lewis. An important American sprinter was this one who throughout his career got to get nine medals (eight gold and one bronze) in world championships and ten Olympic medals, nine gold.

Jesse Owens. Four gold medals are those obtained by this North American athlete who was the great winner of the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Usain Bolt. Jamaican is this sprinter who is one of the references in recent years. He has in his possession not only six Olympic medals and five world medals, but also various individual records in the 100 and 200 meter sprints.