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Derived from ancient Greek, athletics is a group of competitive sporting events that involve running, jumping, throwing, and walking. The most common competitions in this category are track and field, road running, cross country running, and racewalking.
The simplicity of the competitions to measure the winner, and the lack of a need for equipment, makes this one of the most common types of sports in the world.
In 1912, International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) was formed to govern the sport.
This sport has six disciplines: track and field, road running, race walking, cross country running, mountain running, and trail running. Mountain running was added in 2003 and trail running was added in 2015.
In athletics, a participant is pitted against rivals of a similar kind or ability, physical disability, age, and gender.


Under track and field, a participant may compete in one or more events, according to their specialties.
A variety of running events are held on the track, which fall into three broad distance categories: sprints, middle-distance, and long-distance track events.
The field events are of two types – jumping and throwing competitions.
In throwing events, athletes are measured by how far they hurl an implement, with the common events being the shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throw.
For jumping, there are four common events: the long jump and triple jump are contests measuring the horizontal distance an athlete can jump, while the high jump and pole vault are decided on the height achieved.
The Olympics, World Championships in Athletics, Paralympic Athletics and World Para Athletics Championships, are the most prestigious levels of competition in track and field.


Predominantly long-distance, these competitions are running events, which are mainly conducted on courses of paved roads.
Road racing events can be of virtually any distance, but the most common are the marathon, half marathon, 10 km, and 5 km. The World Marathon Majors series includes the six most prestigious marathon competitions – Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, and Tokyo.


First recorded in 1838, cross country running is a more naturalistic form of athletics as participants run on open-air courses over surfaces such as grass, woodland trails, and earth.
Competitions are typically long-distance races of 3 km or more which are usually held in autumn and winter. Most successful athletes under this category often compete in long-distance track and road events as well.
Inaugurated in 1973, the annual IAAF World Cross Country Championships remains the highest level of competition for the sport.


A form of competitive walking that usually takes place on the open-air road, racewalking is the only sport in athletics in which, athletes are monitored on their technique.
The basic rule of racewalking is that a foot must always stay in contact with the ground and their advancing leg must not be bent at the knee. Failure to follow these rules results in disqualification.
Other than IAAF World Championships in Athletics, this sport has its own major event,  the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, being held since 1961.

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