Track & Field

Athletics - Track & Field

Discus, Hammer, High Jump, Hurdling, Javelin, Long Jump,Pole Vault, Relay, Shot Put, Steeple Chase and Triple Jump

Known in Great Britain and the Commenwealth as athletics in the USA as Track and Field Athletics. If you're not sure about the different aspects of athletics read on.

A group of sports comprising running, jumping and throwing contests, cross country running, decathlon, discus, hammer, high jump, hurdling, javelin, long distance running, long jump, marathon, middle distance running, pentathlon, pole vault, race walking, relay running, road running shot put sprinting steeplechase triple jump nearly all these events are contested by men and women.

With an history going back to Ancient Times athletics has always been a keen betting sport with so many events to choose from it’s sometimes seems difficult to decide who and when to bet on someone. So remember this golden rule: athletics is no different than any other sport class will out and top athletes can last quite a few years and with the middle and long distance runners they can dominate events for quite a few season’s.

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Indoors as well as Outdoors

Track and field events are held indoors in the winter months and outdoors during the spring and summer period. However limited space means some outdoor events can't be staged indoors, these are usually the Javelin, Hammer and discus. The other major difference is the 100m sprint is changed to the 60m sprint.

The Arena: a full sized track measures 400m in circumference, it has six or eight lanes and encircles a sports pitch that contains specific areas for each field sport. The track is made of synthetic rubber or polyurethane which enables all year round use. Indoor tracks are usually 200m in circumference have four or six lanes and steep banked turns to accomodate bends that are far tighter than on an outdoor track. Athletes always run anti clockwise. The order of track and field events are determined by a random draw at each meeting.

Olympic Combined Events

Event Gender
Decathlon Male
Heptathlon Female

Olympic Field Events

Event Gender
Discus Male & Female
Javelin Male & Female
Hammer Throw Male & Female
Shot Put Male & Female
Pole Vault Male & Female
High Jump Male & Female
Long Jump Male & Female
Triple Jump Male & Female

Olympic Track Events

Events Gender
100m Male & Female
200m Male & Female
400m Male & Female
100m Hurdles Female
110m Hurdles Male
400m Hurdles Male & Female
4 x 100m Relay Male & Female
4 x 400m Relay Male & Female
800m Male & Female
1500m Male & Female
3000m Steeplechase Male & Female
5000m Male & Female
10000m Male & Female
Marathon Male & Female
20km Walk Male & Female
50km Walk Male

Decathlon & Heptathlon

Decathletes and Heptathletes are the all round specialist of the athletics world, these are great all round athletes. In the case of Decathletes they compete in ten disciplines while Heptathletes compete in seven, the event is held over two consecutive days Decathletes are male while Heptathletes are female. Both events are test of endurance, concentration, speed, strength and skill to win the individual events. The first decathlon competition at Olympic level was in 1912 the Heptathlon made it's first appearance in 1984.

The events in the Decathlon are: 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m on day one. Day two consists of 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, Javelin and 1500m. Day one test the athletes speed and strength while day two test their endurance and technical skills. Athletes must compete in all events to be included in the final classification.

Best Ever: Daley Thompson was regarded as the best Decathlete ever he won the Olympic gold twice first in 1980 and the second in 1984. He also had one of the best computer games named after him which was the fore runner to lots of modern sports games.

Heptathlon Info

The women's seven disciplines are 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m on the first day of the competition and on the second day they will compete inlong jump, javelin adn 800m. Originally women competed in the penthalon but the javelin and 800m were added in 1981 to create the modern event.

Best Ever: Jackie Joyner Kersee was regarded as the best female heptalthlete she was without doubt the best looking.


Originally part of the pentathlon in the Ancient Greek Olympics, it has now become part of the standard athletics field events. The aim is to see how far you can throw the discus.

Has the name suggests the discus is a disc shaped object made mainly of rubber but has a metal or wooden rim and core to make it up to the required weight. the maximum central thickness is 4 to 4.6cm for men it will weigh 2kg and for women 1kg.

Like the shot put throwers have three attempts called trials to throw the discus as far as possible from within the circle. The thrower must remain in the circle until his/her discus has landed and they may only leave from the back half of the circle, The discus must land in the marked landing area for it to be a valid throw. Distances are rounded down to the nearest centimetre or (half Inch).

The discus is thrown from a circle which is 2.5m (8ft) in diametre and the landing sector fans out at a 35 degree angle from the centre of teh throwing circle. Discus throwers tend towards the big size although strong shoulders and arms are needed most power comes from the legs.

The discus became an olympic event for women at the 1928 games the first man to break the 200ft barrier was American athlete Al Oerter in 1962.

This sport is all about centrifugal force the thrower takes up a position at the back of the circle. He/she rest the discus in the throwing hand, then makes one and a half quick powerful turns on the balls of the feet, to produce the force to release the discus at shoulder level, as the discus is released off the index or middle finger it spins clockwise (if your right handed), headwinds are welcomed because it increases the lift thus lengthening the throw.


During the Middle Ages English Village fetes would often feature the Blacksmith's hammer throwing competition, Scottish Highland Games still feature a similiar event.

The aim of the hammer throw is to hurl the projectile as far as possible. The name hammer is a misnomer has the hammer is actually an heavy metal ball attached by wire to a handle. The hammer weighs in at 16lb for men and 8lb 13oz for women.

You have to spin it to win it. The classic hammer throw is made up of four parts the athlete begins with his/her back to the landing area, the hammer is then scung to and fro in a pendulum movement. Having gained momentum, the hammer is raised above the head and whirled in what is known as the Windmill sequence after 3 or 4 rotations the hammer is released.

The hammer only became an olympic event in 1900 games it took till 2000 before women were allowed to take part. Hammer throwers have to be powerfully built especially in the arms shoulders and body. They usually build up using weights.

In most competitions athletes have three attempts to throw the hammer each must be completed within 90 seconds of entering the throwing circle, in large events all but the top 8 are eliminated and these get a further three throws Throwers must stay within the throwing circle until the hammer has landed in the landing sector. The caged circle the throwing area is a concrete circle with a diameter of 7ft in front of the circle the landing sector fans out 40 degrees and has sides 80-100m long.

Shot Put

Shot put is one of the field events held in athletics and is one of the events that has been competed in every modern olympics. Believed to originated from ancient warfare and the first women's event at an Olympics was in 1948 in London.

probably one of the simpler events to understand each competitor must throw (put) a heavy metal ball known as the shot as far as they can each competitor as three attempts to gain the furthest distance.

Shot putters usually are tall and powerfully built the sport requires that an athlete must combine speed, flexibility and coordination with strength. Most shot putters are good all round athletes.

For each of his/her three shots the competitor may touch the inside of but not step over the stop board at the front of the circle. The length of the shot is measured from the front of the circle to the shot's first contact with the ground and recorded to the nearest centimetre or half inch below the actual length of the throw.

The landing area is a measured sector that fans outwards 35 degrees from the centre of the throwing circle it's sides are usually no more than 30m (98ft 6in) long.

Glide or Spin?

There are two main styles of shot put delivery these are the glide and spin, the athlete faces the rear of the circle and hops backwards while twisting the hips to the front. The feet stay as close to the ground as possible. The spin as it's name suggests uses extra rotation to build up momentum.

American Parry O'Brien is credited with inventing the Glide during the 1950's he would crouch to face the back of the circle then pushing of powerfully from one leg to rotate the body and face the front and then launch the shot.

Soviet athlete Aleksandr Baryshnikov introduced the spin or Baryshnikov's Rotation to the sport during the 1970's it is similar to the discus thrower's spin and makes it easier to maximize the launch speed of the put. Originally very controversial it is the style used by most modern shot putters.


Strangely Javelin is one of the few ancient sports that wasn't included in the modern olympics. It got it's Olympic debut in London in 1908 as a man's only event women were included for the first time during the 1932 Los Angeles games.

The Javelin is now a field event for men and women, each athlete will throw a spear like projectile as far as they are physically able. Although an event in it's own right Javelin is also included in Pentathlon and Decathlon events

Each competitor gets three throws each if there are fewer than eight competitors they will throw six time. Once they are prepared they have just 90 seconds to take their turn. For the throw to be legal an athlete must stay behind the line at the end of the runway until the javelin lands it must land point first within the designated area.

The throw is measured from the end of the runway to the javelin's first point of contact with the ground. In the event of a tie, the winner is the athlete with the longest second best throw.

In 1986 the men's javelin was redesigned for safety reasons to reduce the distance it can travel, the women's javelin was redesigned in 1999.


One of the great crowd pullers, hurdling creates a buzz of excitement amongst the spectators, the object of hurdles is to leap over a series of gate like obstacles and reach the finishing line ahead of your fellow competitors.

The event is slightly different for women in that women athletes race over 100m outdoors while men race for 110m although the 400m distance is same for both sexes. In both the 100 & 110m races all athletes start from the blocks and run along a straight course having to jump over 10 hurldes along the way. The 400m hurdles are also raced from blocks and again the athletes must clear 10 hurdles, these hurdles are slightly lower than the sprint equivalents and the athletes start from a staggered start.

Hurdles are L shaped and designed to fall over when hit. Hurdlers don't try to maximize the length of their stride. The main focus is on the approach to each hurdle and the ability to maintain a smooth uninterrupted flow throughout the race. They try not to have to break stride on approaching an hurdle and to maintain an efficient and economical jumping technique.

The best hurdlers make full use of their arms to balance their bodies as they attack each hurdle they stretch forward reaching for their lead leg with the opposite hand. Hurdlers need speed, stamina and power on top of this they need to develop quick reflex actions that will help them propel themselves over a rapid succession of obstacles without wasting any rhythm.

Ed Moses was considered by many to be the best hurdler of all time winning the 400m hurdles at the 1976 and 1984 olympics, oddly enough when he retired from hurdling he took up bob sliegh and won a bronze medal in the 1990 world cup.

Long Jump

The long jump used to be known as the broad jump and without doubt is one of the oldest track and field events for both men and women.

Athletes compete in this event to see which of them can jump the furthest from a running start. A technically demanding sport. It has been part of every modern olympic games although starting out as a men only event women were allowed to compete in the 1948 London Olympics.

The long jump pit is at least 10m (33ft) in length and is filled with sand which is moistened, After every jump the surface is smoothed over with a rake to the same level as the runway. The runway is made of cinders or synthetic material, should be no less than 40m (131ft) long although the usual length is 45m (147ft 6in) between the runway and the pit is the take off board this is 8in wide to the front of which the judges may and usually do place a strip of plasticine, soft earth or sand, that will show if the jumpers foot was on the ground beyond the take off limit.

Athletes may tread on the take off board but they must not allow any part of their feet to go over its farthest edge called the scratch line, if they do the jump is invalid a legal jump will be indicated by the raising of a white flag a foul jump will be indicated by a red flag. Each competitor will have three attempts unless there are fewer than eight competitors in which case they will have six attempts in high level events there are usually two knock out rounds, then the top eight will contest a final. The winner is the athlete who has the longest valid jump in the event of a tie the second best jumps or trials as they are known are taken into consideration.

The five crucial elements to a long jump are a fast approach, a well measured last two strides, an explosive take off, a long flight and a well balanced landing. Lots of top quality sprinters are usually long jumpers as well. There are three types of jump the hitch kick, the hang and the sail.

World records are hard to break at this sport Bob Beamon's record stood for 23 years, Carl Lewis was considered by many to be the best jumper of all time having won 4 Olympic gold medals from 1984 to 1996.

Triple Jump

The Triple jump used to be known as the Hop Step and Jump which perfectly describes this event. Men competed in this event in the very first modern olympics in 1896 it took another 100 years for a women's event to be staged.

Any athlete who walks back through the landing pit after they have made their jump will be disqualified with immediate effect.

The Triple jump pit is the same as used for the long jump 10m (33ft) in length and is filled with sand which is moistened, After every jump the surface is smoothed over with a rake to the same level as the runway. The runway is made of cinders or synthetic material, should be no less than 40m (131ft) long although the usual length is 45m (147ft 6in) between the runway and the pit is the take off board this is 8in wide to the front of which the judges may and usually do place a strip of plasticine, soft earth or sand, that will show if the jumpers foot was on the ground beyond the take off limit.

A top triple jumper usually takes a run up of around 40m the approach will be at top speed, it should be judged so that the jumper has no need to look down at the board you must begin and end with the hop on the same foot as soon as they land they launch the other foot into the step stretching to cover as much ground as possible for the final jump the athlete uses one of the three long jump techniques such as the hitch kick, the sail or the extension

Jonathan Edwards was the first athlete to break the 18m barrier jumping an incredible 60ft (18.29m)

Pole Vault

Originally a means of crossing natural obstacles such as ditches, canals and marshes the first recorded British pole vault competition was in 1812. The dutch still have a pole vault across canal's most competitors end up in the canal but that's another story.

The men's pole vault has been a medal event at every modern Olympics, however the women's competition has only been held since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The pole vault is a field event for both ment and women. Each competitor will sprint along a runway carrying a long, flexible pole which they must then plant in a box and use to lever themselves over a crossbar which will be suspended several metres above the ground between two uprights.

The height of the cross bar is raised after every round and athletes are eliminated from the competition when they have failed three consecutive attempts at jumping over the bar.

Pole vault requires a runway of 40-45m (131-147ft 6in), a pole box, two uprights, a crossbar, landing mats, The athlete requires one pole a pair of good running shoes for dependable grip close fitting clothes to reduce the risk of snagging, Most poles are now fibre glass, they can be any length or diameter but must be round.

Most pole vaulters are tall they need to be able to run fast to build up momentum the ability to put explosive power into their legs for the take off and exceptional strength in the shoulders, arms and abdomen and it goes without saying that spatial awareness is a key to avoiding the bar.

Serge Bubka broke the world record in 1994 with an impressive 6.14m during his career he broke 35 world records 17 outdoor and 18 indoor. He is known as the king of the pole vault.

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