Athletics is the perfect expression of the Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’) – the competition requires athletes to run faster, throw further, jump higher and leap longer than their rivals. With 2,000 athletes competing in 47 events, Athletics is the largest single sport at the Games.
America’s Ray Ewry won 10 gold medals between 1900 and 1908 in the Standing Long Jump, High Jump and Triple Jump. As a child, Ray was confined to a wheelchair due to polio. He exercised his legs until he could walk, and then strengthened them through jumping.
The Marathon race commemorates the run of a Greek soldier, Pheidippides, who had to deliver a message from a battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens in 490 BC. Legend has it that he collapsed and died after running 171 miles in just two days.
At the London 1948 Games, the USA’s Guinn Smith became the last pole vaulter to win a gold medal using a bamboo pole.
There will be 510 adjustable hurdles used for the Athletics competition.