Track and field is a sport which includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from the sport’s typical venue: a stadium with an oval running track enclosing a grass field where the throwing and jumping events take place. Track and field is categorized under the umbrella sport of athletics, which also includes road running, cross country running, and race walking.
The foot racing events, which include sprints, middle- and long-distance events, race walking and hurdling, are won by the athlete with the fastest time. The jumping and throwing events are won by the athlete who achieves the greatest distance or height. Regular jumping events include long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault, while the most common throwing events are shot put, javelin, discus and hammer. There are also “combined events” or “multi events”, such as the pentathlon consisting of five events, heptathlon consisting of seven events, and decathlon consisting of ten events. In these, athletes participate in a combination of track and field events. Most track and field events are individual sports with a single victor; the most prominent team events are relay races, which typically feature teams of four. Events are almost exclusively divided by gender, although both the men’s and women’s competitions are usually held at the same venue. If a race has too many people to run all at once, preliminary heats will be run to narrow down the field of participants.
Track and field is one of the oldest sports. In ancient times, it was an event held in conjunction with festivals and sports meets such as the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece.