The results of racing events are decided by finishing position (or time, where measured), while the jumps and throws are won by the athlete that achieves the highest or furthest measurement from a series of attempts. The simplicity of the competitions, and the lack of a need for expensive equipment, makes athletics one of the most common types of sports in the world. Athletics is mostly an individual sport, with the exception of relay races and competitions which combine athletes' performances for a team score, such as cross country.
Organized athletics are traced back to the Ancient Olympic Games from 776 BC. The rules and format of the modern events in athletics were defined in Western Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th century, and were then spread to other parts of the world. Most modern top level meetings are held under the auspices of World Athletics, the global governing body for the sport of athletics, or its member continental and national federations.
The word athletics is derived from the Ancient Greekἀθλητής (athlētēs, "combatant in public games") from ἆθλον (athlon, "prize") or ἆθλος (athlos, "competition"). Initially, the term described athletic contests in general – i.e. sporting competition based primarily on human physical feats. In the 19th century, the term athletics acquired a more narrow definition in Europe and came to describe sports involving competitive running, walking, jumping and throwing. This definition continues to be prominent in the United Kingdom and the former British Empire. Related words in Germanic and Romance languages also have a similar meaning.
In much of North America, athletics is synonymous with sports in general, maintaining the historical usage of the term. The word "athletics" is rarely used to refer to the sport of athletics in this region. Track and field is preferred, and is used in the United States and Canada to refer to athletics events, including racewalking and marathon running (although cross country running is typically considered a separate sport).
It's from the first edition (1896 Summer Olympics), that Athletics has been considered the "Queen" of the Olympics. Since then there have been a series of competitions organized at world level, than at the continental level. Furthermore, the Athletics is the main sport of nearly all multi-sport events such as Universiade, Mediterranean Games or Pan American Games. The following list refers to the main Athletics competitions that take place in the world.
The Jesse Owens Award is an annual track and field award that is the highest accolade given out by USA Track and Field (USATF). As the country's highest award for the sport, it bears Jesse Owens' name in recognition of his significant career, which included four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. First awarded in 1981 to hurdlerEdwin Moses, it was created to recognize the season's top American performer in track and field competitions. In 1996, the award was divided into two categories, with both a male and female winner. The 1996 winners, Michael Johnson and Gail Devers, each won two gold medals at that year's Olympics in Atlanta. Up to 2008, the award was voted on by members of the United States athletics media only, but in 2009 fans were able to vote via the USA Track and Field website, with their opinions contributing 10% of the overall result.
The winners of the award are typically announced in late November or early December after the end of the outdoor track and field season. A number of athletes have received the award on more than one occasion: Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first to do so with back-to-back wins in 1986 and 1987, while Carl Lewis won his second award in 1991. Michael Johnson was the first to receive the award three times (winning consecutively from 1994–1996) and Marion Jones became the first woman to collect three awards after wins in 1997, 1998 and 2002. The most recent winners are David Oliver and Allyson Felix. Winners receive a replica of the award while the original remains on permanent display at the USATF Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete who specialized in the sprints and the long jump. He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4x100 meter relay team. He was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics, a victory more poignant and often noted because Adolf Hitler had intended the 1936 games to showcase his Aryan ideals and prowess. The Jesse Owens Award, USA Track and Field's highest accolade for the year's best track and field athlete, is named after him, in honor of his significant career. James Cleveland Owens was born the seventh of eleven children of Henry and Mary Emma Owens in Oakville, Alabama on September 12, 1913. J.C., as he was called, was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South. When his new teacher asked his name (to enter in her roll book), he said "J.C.", but because of his strong Southern accent, she thought he said "Jesse". The name took, and he was known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.