Essay on Stuff...: Olympic Games and Field Events

Submitted By DippyPines13
Words: 1551
Pages: 7

The sport of track and field has its roots in human prehistory. Track and field-style events are among the oldest of all sporting competitions, as running, jumping and throwing are natural and universal forms of human physical expression. The first recorded examples of organized track and field events at a sports festival are the Ancient Olympic Games. At the first Games in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, only one event was contested: the stadion footrace.[1] The scope of the Games expanded in later years to include further running competitions, but the introduction of the Ancient Olympic pentathlon marked a step towards track and field as it is recognized today—it comprised a five-event competition of the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, the stadion foot race, and wrestling.[2][3]
Track and field events were also present at the Panhellenic Games in Greece around this period, and they spread to Rome in Italy around 200 BC.[4][5] After the period of Classical antiquity (in which the sport was largely Greco-Roman influenced) new track and field events began developing in parts of Northern Europe in the Middle Ages. The stone put and weight throw competitions popular among Celtic societies in Ireland and Scotland were precursors to the modern shot put and hammer throw events. One of the last track and field events to develop was the pole vault, which stemmed from competitions such as the Fierljeppen contests in the Northern European Lowlands in the 18th century.

An early model of hurdling at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1888.
Discrete modern track and field competitions, separate from general sporting festivals, were first recorded in the 19th century. These were typically organised by educational institutions, military organisations and sports clubs as competitions between rival establishments.[6] Competitions in the English public schools were conceived as human equivalents of horse racing, fox hunting and hare coursing, influenced by a Classics-rich curriculum. The Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt is the oldest running club in the world, with written records going back to 1831 and evidence that it was established by 1819.[7] The school organised Paper Chase races in which runners followed a trail of paper shreds left by two "foxes";[7] even today RSSH runners are called "hounds" and a race victory is a "kill".[8] The first definite record of Shrewsbury's (cross-country) Annual Steeplechase is in 1834, making it the oldest running race of the modern era.[7] The school also lays claim to the oldest track and field meeting still in existence, originating in the Second Spring Meeting first documented in 1840.[7] This featured a series of throwing and jumping events with mock horse races including the Derby Stakes, the Hurdle Race and the Trial Stakes. Runners were entered by "owners" and named as though they were horses.[7] 13 miles (21 km) away and a decade later, the first Wenlock Olympian Games were held at Much Wenlock racecourse.[9] Events at the 1851 Wenlock Games included a "half-mile foot race" (805 m) and a "leaping in distance" competition.[10]
In 1865 Dr William Penny Brookes of Wenlock helped set up the National Olympian Association, which held their first Olympian Games in 1866 at The Crystal Palace in London.[10] This national event was a great success, attracting a crowd of over ten thousand people.[10] In response, that same year the Amateur Athletic Club was formed and held a championship for "gentlemen amateurs" in an attempt to reclaim the sport for the educated elite.[10] Ultimately the "allcomers" ethos of the NOA won through and the AAC was reconstituted as the Amateur Athletic Association in 1880, the first national body for the sport of athletics. The AAA Championships, the de facto British national championships despite being for England only, have been held annually since 3 July 1880 with breaks only during two world wars and 2006–2008.[11] The AAA was effectively a global governing body in the…