Though it is officially titled Athletics in the Olympics, Track & Field encompasses many outdoor sports including running, long jump, and decathlon. Athletics has been a part of the Olympic Games since the beginning and has grown significantly from the original twelve events in 1896 to forty-seven in 2012. Since 1948, the men’s competition includes twenty-four sports. Women’s Athletics continues to grow from the original five in 1928, to twenty-three in 2012. It is one of the more popular events in the Olympics for the United States with many of the most popular athletes regularly featured in promotions. A few famous American Track & Field athletes include Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Dan O’Brien, Lolo Jones, Jim Thorpe, and Jesse Owens. USA Track and Field has a long list and links to Hall of Fame inductees to learn more.
Athletic competitions are one of the longest running competitive sports dating back to Ancient Greece with the Ancient Olympics. Ancient Athletics include sprinting, discus, and chariot racing. The original version of the pentathlon includes running, jumping, spear-throwing, discus and wrestling with these sports now separate events in the Modern Olympics. The current pentathlon, no longer held under Athletics, includes pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, running, and horse riding. Though the marathon race happens every year since the inaugural Modern Olympics to connect the past and the present, it was not a part of the Ancient games. A virtual introduction to Olympic history can be found at Olympics.org.
The GRCC Library carries materials about Athletics including a few titles below. Track and Field events begin August 3rd. This year NBC will be streaming Olympic events online along with the broadcasts.
Enjoy the games!
A Kind of Grace: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Female Athlete, by Jackie Joyner-Kersee with Sonja Steptoe.
The Best That I Can Be: An Autobiography, by Rafer Johnson with Philip Goldberg.
Jesse Owens: an American Life, by William J. Baker.
Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe, by Kate Buford.
Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith, by Tommie Smith with David Steele. (ebook)