Athletics is one of the major crowd pullers in Olympics. Read on to know more about the rules and regulations as well as the Olympics records set in this sport.


Athletics, also known as ' track and field events' has been the major crowd puller in Summer Olympics since its inception in 1896. However, the only athletic event that was incorporated in the first Summer Games was 'stade', a foot race run in the length of the stadium. Although this competitive sport event made its way into the modern Olympics much later, its earliest roots can be traced back to ancient Greek Olympics. The modern-day Summer Olympics is an amalgamation of events like track events, field events, road events and combined events. Being a sport event which perfectly fits into the Olympic motto of - 'Faster, Higher, and Stronger', and the largest single sport at the Summer Games with 2,000 athletes competing in 47 events, athletic events are sure to be the major attraction of London Olympiad. Go through the below article to know more about the athletics, its rules and regulations, history and records.

Athletics Rules And Regulations

Running Events
  • From the firing of the starter’s gun to breasting the finishing tape, an athlete is expected to adhere strictly to some basic rules like he/she must always start behind the start line and must remain in lane throughout the race.
  • Jumping the gun can lead to disqualification from the game. Running before the starter’s gun is fired is declared as a “false start” and can eventually lead to disqualification, if the runner faults twice. Sometimes, athletes are warned before being disqualified. 
  • If a runner tries to impede a fellow athlete’s progress by blocking, shoving or interfering to gain unfair advantage, he/she is disqualified from the game.
  • A runner must always wear sneakers or athletic shoes during the game.
  • In shorter events such as in 800 meters race, athletes should stay inside the lane. In longer events, they are allowed to move to the innermost lanes with a condition that they should not touch the other participants.
Throwing Events
  • In throwing events like javelin, hammer throw and short put, an athlete is expected to aim farther than anybody else. Just like the jumping events, only the longest throw counts here.
  • Javelin is the only event that allows the participant to run. The participants dart through a runway of 30 meters before pitching their javelin.
  • In shot put, discus and hammer throw, athletes are allowed to spin their object within a pre-defined circle to create momentum before lobbing. A six millimetres wide iron band trimmed in white encircles the area. Touching the top of the iron band or the ground outside while hurling can lead to disqualification. Also, there is a wooden stop board at the front to keep athletes from slewing out of the circle. Athletes can hit the board, but touching the top of the board may lead to disqualification.
  • In all throwing events, the object lobbed must land within a specified area.
Jumping Events
  • In jumping events, the athletes run through a runway and as high as possible. However, the rules vary according to the events.
  • Mots jumping events have a sand pit or a pad to enable the athlete land easily after the jump. The foot of the athlete should not touch the ground before the jump, or else it’s declared a ‘scratch’ and earns him zero points. The length of the jump is measured from the line to the point where foot touches the ground.
  • If the athletes happen to fall back after landing, the distance measured is to the contact point. The athletes are given three ties or chances  and the best try is counted.
  • The same rules apply to vertical jump events like high jump and pole vault, except for the way the distance is measured here. A height goal marked by a bar is set by the athlete and if cleared, they score for the specific round. Some events allow three chances to the athletes, while some other events allow the athletes to keep trying on higher bars until they fail.
Athletics has been the heart and soul of Summer Olympics since its birth in 1896. Modern summer games now constitute of road running events, track and field events and race walking events. Though cross-country running was earlier a part of the Olympics, it was dropped after the Summer Olympics in 1924. After short race walk was incorporated in 1952 Summer Games, no new sport has been added to the athletics programme. Though the early six editions saw the team racing events, athletic triathlon and pentathlon was later replaced by decathlon and medley relay was replaced by even-leg relays. A few standing jump competitions and throwing events, which made an experimental visit in 1908 and 1912, were removed entirely in the remaining versions.