Athletics

Facts

Discipline of Athletics
Participants 23088
NOCs 226
Competitions held 1025 (Venues)
Distinct events 202
IF World Athletics

Description

Athletics, or track & field, is the original Olympic sport. The first event contested in the Ancient Olympics was the stadion, a sprint of about 190 metres. Recorded victors in this event are known as far back as 776 BCE. Other athletics events in the Ancient Olympics included longer races, races in armor (hoplite), and a pentathlon consisting of the stadion, long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, and wrestling.

Throughout recorded sports history, athletics has always been practiced. Many of the attempted revivals of the Olympics in the 19th century consisted mostly of athletics events. Since the revival of the Olympics in 1896, athletics has been the most publicized sport on the Olympic Program. Today, athletics is rivaled only by football (soccer) and volleyball as the sport practiced in the most countries in the world, based on number of nations within the international federation. The sport is governed internationally by the World Athletics (WA) (formerly the International Amateur Athletic Federation [IAAF]), which was formed on 17 July 1912 in Stockholm. The organization has 214 member nations as of 2020.

Athletics has been held at every Olympics. Women’s athletics began at the 1928 Olympics and has been contested continually since. The program has varied but has been fairly standard since 1932. The current program includes sprint races (100, 200, and 400 metres), middle-distance races (800 and 1,500 metres), distance races (5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and marathon [26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 km)]), hurdle races (110 metres for men, 100 metres for women, and 400 metres for both), steeplechase (3,000 metres for men and women), walking events (20 km. for men and women, and 50 km. for men), flat jumping events (long jump and triple jump), vertical jumping events (high jump and pole vault), throwing events (shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, and javelin throw), and multi-events (decathlon for men and heptathlon for women).

Although women were first allowed to compete in only a few events, today they have a program with almost as many events as the men. The only current differences in the women’s program are that they have only one walking event (20 km), and they compete in the heptathlon, as opposed to the decathlon for men. This may change in the future as women do contest a 50 km walk at the World Championships.

The United States’ men have always been the top performers in the world in track & field athletics. Among the women, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR – East Germany) were the top powers after their admission to the Olympics, and prior to their dissolution by the political events at the end of the 1980s.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 342 272 214 828
Soviet Union URS 64 55 74 193
Great Britain GBR 56 83 73 212
Finland FIN 48 36 30 114
East Germany GDR 38 36 35 109
Kenya KEN 34 41 31 106
Poland POL 29 20 17 66
Jamaica JAM 26 36 24 86
Italy ITA 24 15 26 65
Germany GER 23 46 44 113
Ethiopia ETH 23 12 23 58
Australia AUS 21 27 28 76
Sweden SWE 21 22 41 84
Russian Federation RUS 20 21 19 60
Canada CAN 15 16 33 64
France FRA 14 26 30 70
West Germany FRG 12 14 17 43
Cuba CUB 11 14 20 45
Romania ROU 11 14 10 35
Czechoslovakia TCH 11 8 5 24
Hungary HUN 10 12 18 40
People's Republic of China CHN 10 12 15 37
New Zealand NZL 10 3 13 26
South Africa RSA 9 13 6 28
Norway NOR 9 6 8 23
Greece GRE 8 12 10 30
Netherlands NED 8 7 9 24
Unified Team EUN 7 11 3 21
Japan JPN 7 10 10 27
Morocco MAR 7 5 8 20
The Bahamas BAH 7 2 5 14
Belgium BEL 6 5 3 14
Bulgaria BUL 5 8 6 19
Brazil BRA 5 3 11 19
Portugal POR 5 3 4 12
Czech Republic CZE 5 2 8 15
Algeria ALG 4 3 2 9
Ireland IRL 4 2 1 7
Uganda UGA 4 1 2 7
Mexico MEX 3 6 2 11
Belarus BLR 3 5 7 15
Spain ESP 3 5 7 15
Trinidad and Tobago TTO 3 4 8 15
Lithuania LTU 3 1 2 6
Croatia CRO 3 1 1 5
Nigeria NGR 2 5 7 14
Ukraine UKR 2 3 13 18
Argentina ARG 2 3 0 5
Dominican Republic DOM 2 3 0 5
Tunisia TUN 2 2 1 5
Bahrain BRN 2 2 0 4
Estonia EST 2 1 3 6
Kazakhstan KAZ 2 1 2 5
Cameroon CMR 2 0 0 2
Colombia COL 1 3 1 5
Austria AUT 1 2 5 8
Slovenia SLO 1 2 1 4
India IND 1 2 0 3
Qatar QAT 1 1 2 4
Grenada GRN 1 1 1 3
Venezuela VEN 1 1 1 3
Burundi BDI 1 1 0 2
Ecuador ECU 1 1 0 2
Republic of Korea KOR 1 1 0 2
Russian Olympic Committee ROC 1 1 0 2
Panama PAN 1 0 2 3
Mozambique MOZ 1 0 1 2
Puerto Rico PUR 1 0 1 2
Luxembourg LUX 1 0 0 1
Slovakia SVK 1 0 0 1
Syrian Arab Republic SYR 1 0 0 1
Tajikistan TJK 1 0 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 6 2 8
Namibia NAM 0 5 0 5
Denmark DEN 0 4 3 7
Latvia LAT 0 4 1 5
Chile CHI 0 2 0 2
Sri Lanka SRI 0 2 0 2
United Republic of Tanzania TAN 0 2 0 2
Yugoslavia YUG 0 2 0 2
Botswana BOT 0 1 1 2
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 1 1 2
Iceland ISL 0 1 1 2
Bohemia BOH 0 1 0 1
Côte d'Ivoire CIV 0 1 0 1
Guatemala GUA 0 1 0 1
Haiti HAI 0 1 0 1
Islamic Republic of Iran IRI 0 1 0 1
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia KSA 0 1 0 1
Senegal SEN 0 1 0 1
Sudan SUD 0 1 0 1
Zambia ZAM 0 1 0 1
Philippines PHI 0 0 2 2
Turkey TUR 0 0 2 2
West Indies Federation WIF 0 0 2 2
Australasia ANZ 0 0 1 1
Barbados BAR 0 0 1 1
Burkina Faso BUR 0 0 1 1
Djibouti DJI 0 0 1 1
Eritrea ERI 0 0 1 1
Serbia SRB 0 0 1 1

Intercalated Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 11 6 6 23
Great Britain GBR 3 5 1 9
Sweden SWE 2 4 5 11
Hungary HUN 1 3 1 5
Greece GRE 1 2 4 7
Canada CAN 1 1 0 2
Finland FIN 1 0 1 2
France FRA 1 0 0 1
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Belgium BEL 0 1 0 1
Australia AUS 0 0 2 2

Youth Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
People's Republic of China CHN 11 5 3 19
Kenya KEN 8 3 4 15
Ukraine UKR 8 2 7 17
Ethiopia ETH 7 8 6 21
France FRA 6 5 1 12
Russian Federation RUS 6 4 4 14
Cuba CUB 5 1 1 7
United States USA 4 3 6 13
Jamaica JAM 4 2 1 7
Australia AUS 3 9 3 15
Japan JPN 3 7 3 13
Germany GER 3 5 6 14
Mixed team MIX 3 3 3 9
Nigeria NGR 3 2 1 6
South Africa RSA 3 1 2 6
Spain ESP 2 1 1 4
Argentina ARG 2 1 0 3
Qatar QAT 2 1 0 3
Poland POL 2 0 3 5
Sweden SWE 2 0 1 3
Italy ITA 1 4 2 7
Belarus BLR 1 3 1 5
Mexico MEX 1 3 1 5
Ecuador ECU 1 2 1 4
Brazil BRA 1 1 2 4
Uganda UGA 1 1 2 4
Bulgaria BUL 1 1 1 3
Switzerland SUI 1 1 1 3
Zambia ZAM 1 1 1 3
Burundi BDI 1 1 0 2
New Zealand NZL 1 1 0 2
Czech Republic CZE 1 0 3 4
Eritrea ERI 1 0 2 3
Finland FIN 1 0 2 3
Greece GRE 1 0 2 3
Belgium BEL 1 0 1 2
Dominican Republic DOM 1 0 1 2
Colombia COL 1 0 0 1
Ghana GHA 1 0 0 1
Iceland ISL 1 0 0 1
Israel ISR 1 0 0 1
Suriname SUR 1 0 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 4 5 9
Romania ROU 0 4 0 4
India IND 0 3 1 4
Algeria ALG 0 2 0 2
Botswana BOT 0 2 0 2
Cyprus CYP 0 2 0 2
Morocco MAR 0 1 2 3
Bahrain BRN 0 1 1 2
Denmark DEN 0 1 1 2
Egypt EGY 0 1 1 2
Puerto Rico PUR 0 1 1 2
The Bahamas BAH 0 1 1 2
Saint Lucia LCA 0 1 0 1
Slovakia SVK 0 1 0 1
Tunisia TUN 0 1 0 1
Venezuela VEN 0 1 0 1
Turkey TUR 0 0 3 3
Great Britain GBR 0 0 2 2
Austria AUT 0 0 1 1
Azerbaijan AZE 0 0 1 1
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 0 1 1
Djibouti DJI 0 0 1 1
Grenada GRN 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong, China HKG 0 0 1 1
Iraq IRQ 0 0 1 1
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia KSA 0 0 1 1
Latvia LAT 0 0 1 1
Republic of Korea KOR 0 0 1 1
Slovenia SLO 0 0 1 1
Sri Lanka SRI 0 0 1 1

Forerunners To The Olympic Games

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Paavo Nurmi FIN 9 3 0 12
Carl Lewis USA 9 1 0 10
Ray Ewry USA 8 0 0 8
Usain Bolt JAM 8 0 0 8
Allyson Felix USA 7 3 1 11
Ville Ritola FIN 5 3 0 8
Elaine Thompson-Herah JAM 5 1 0 6
Hannes Kolehmainen FIN 4 1 0 5
Emil Zátopek CZE
TCH
4 1 0 5
Evelyn Ashford USA 4 1 0 5
Mel Sheppard USA 4 1 0 5

Intercalated Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Martin Sheridan USA 2 3 0 5
Ray Ewry USA 2 0 0 2
Paul Pilgrim USA 2 0 0 2
Nikolaos Georgantas GRE 1 2 0 3
Con Leahy GBR
IRL
1 1 0 2
Jim Lightbody USA 1 1 0 2
Peter O'Connor GBR
IRL
1 1 0 2
Eric Lemming SWE 1 0 2 3
Verner Järvinen FIN 1 0 1 2
Fernand Gonder FRA 1 0 0 1
George Bonhag USA 1 0 0 1
Archie Hahn USA 1 0 0 1
Meyer Prinstein USA 1 0 0 1
Billy Sherring CAN 1 0 0 1
Henry Hawtrey GBR 1 0 0 1
György Sztantics HUN 1 0 0 1
Hjalmar Mellander SWE 1 0 0 1
Bob Leavitt USA 1 0 0 1

Youth Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Luguelín Santos DOM 2 0 0 2
Robin Reynolds USA 2 0 0 2
Caio César dos Santos BRA 2 0 0 2
O'Dean Skeen JAM 2 0 0 2
TyNia Gaither BAH 1 1 0 2
Florence Uwakwe NGR 1 1 0 2
Josephine Omaka NGR 1 1 0 2
Myasia Jacobs USA 1 1 0 2
Sydney Siame ZAM 1 1 0 2
Nicholas Hough AUS 1 0 1 2
Trae Williams AUS 1 0 1 2
Noel-Aman del Cerro ESP 1 0 1 2
Wogene Sebisibe Sidamo ETH 1 0 1 2
Merten Howe GER 1 0 1 2

Forerunners To The Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
100 metres Men 30
200 metres Men 28
400 metres Men 30
800 metres Men 30
1,500 metres Men 30
5,000 metres Men 25
10,000 metres Men 25
Marathon Men 30
110 metres Hurdles Men 30
400 metres Hurdles Men 27
3,000 metres Steeplechase Men 24
4 × 100 metres Relay Men 25
4 × 400 metres Relay Men 25
20 kilometres Walk Men 17
50 kilometres Walk Men 20
High Jump Men 36
Pole Vault Men 37
Long Jump Men 41
Triple Jump Men 32
Shot Put Men 42
Discus Throw Men 38
Hammer Throw Men 33
Javelin Throw Men 27
Decathlon Men 25
100 metres Women 22
200 metres Women 19
400 metres Women 15
800 metres Women 17
1,500 metres Women 13
5,000 metres Women 7
10,000 metres Women 9
Marathon Women 10
100 metres Hurdles Women 13
400 metres Hurdles Women 10
3,000 metres Steeplechase Women 4
4 × 100 metres Relay Women 22
4 × 400 metres Relay Women 13
20 kilometres Walk Women 6
High Jump Women 22
Pole Vault Women 6
Long Jump Women 19
Triple Jump Women 7
Shot Put Women 19
Discus Throw Women 22
Hammer Throw Women 6
Javelin Throw Women 21
Heptathlon Women 10
4 × 400 metres Relay Mixed 1
100 metres Boys 3
200 metres Boys 3
400 metres Boys 3
800 metres Boys 2
1,000 metres Boys 1
1,500 metres Boys 2
3,000 metres Boys 3
110 metres Hurdles Boys 3
400 metres Hurdles Boys 3
2,000 metres Steeplechase Boys 3
Medley Relay Boys 2
10,000 metres Walk Boys 2
High Jump Boys 12
Pole Vault Boys 8
Long Jump Boys 11
Triple Jump Boys 3
Shot Put Boys 11
Discus Throw Boys 6
Hammer Throw Boys 7
Javelin Throw Boys 3
5,000 metres Walk Boys 1
100 metres Girls 3
200 metres Girls 3
400 metres Girls 3
1,000 metres Girls 1
800 metres Girls 2
1,500 metres Girls 2
3,000 metres Girls 3
100 metres Hurdles Girls 3
400 metres Hurdles Girls 3
2,000 metres Steeplechase Girls 3
Medley Relay Girls 1
5,000 metres Walk Girls 2
High Jump Girls 3
Pole Vault Girls 3
Long Jump Girls 3
Triple Jump Girls 3
Shot Put Girls 3
Discus Throw Girls 3
Hammer Throw Girls 3
Javelin Throw Girls 3
5,000 metres Walk Girls 1
8 × 100 metres Relay Mixed Youth 1
60 metres Men 2
100 yards Men 13
220 yards Men 5
Stade Race Men 1
440 yards Men 10
Diaulos Men 3
880 yards Men 6
1 mile Men 7
2 miles Men 4
Long Race (Dolikhos) Men 1
5 miles Men 3
120 yards Hurdles Men 9
200 metres Hurdles Men 2
220 yards Hurdles Men 5
2,500 metres Steeplechase Men 1
2,590 metres Steeplechase Men 1
3,200 metres Steeplechase Men 1
4,000 metres Steeplechase Men 1
4 × 440 yards Relay Men 1
1,600 metres Medley Relay Men 1
3,000 metres, Team Men 3
3 miles, Team Men 1
5,000 metres, Team Men 1
4 miles, Team Men 1
1,500 metres Walk Men 1
3,000 metres Walk Men 2
3,500 metres Walk Men 1
10 kilometres Walk Men 5
10 miles Walk Men 1
Cross-Country, Individual Men 3
Cross-Country, Team Men 3
Standing High Jump Men 5
Standing Long Jump Men 5
Standing Triple Jump Men 3
Plain Jump Men 1
Over the Ditch Jump Men 2
Shot Put, Both Hands Men 1
56-pound Weight Throw Men 9
Stone Throw Men 4
Discus Throw, Greek Style Men 2
Discus Throw, Both Hands Men 1
Javelin Throw, Both Hands Men 1
Javelin Throw, Freestyle Men 2
Javelin Throw for Accuracy Men 4
Bolo Throw Men 1
Baseball Throw Men 6
Ball Throw for Accuracy Men 1
Pentathlon Men 3
Pentathlon (Ancient) Men 1
Pentathlon, Team Men 1
All-Around Championship Men 1
Team Men 3
Special Scratch Pole Vault #1 Men 1
Special Scratch Pole Vault #2 Men 1
60 yards, Handicap Men 1
Pole Vault Over a Ditch Men 1
100 yards, Handicap Men 5
100 metres, Handicap Men 1
220 yards, Handicap Men 5
400 metres, Handicap Men 1
440 yards, Handicap Men 4
800 metres, Handicap Men 1
880 yards, Handicap Men 5
1,500 metres, Handicap Men 1
1 mile, Handicap Men 4
2 miles, Handicap Men 4
120 yards Hurdles, Handicap Men 3
110 metres Hurdles, Handicap Men 1
220 yards Hurdles, Handicap Men 3
400 metres Hurdles, Handicap Men 1
2,500 metres Steeplechase, Handicap Men 1
1 mile, Team, Handicap Men 1
High Jump, Handicap Men 6
Long Jump, Handicap Men 6
Pole Vault, Handicap Men 6
Shot Put, Handicap Men 6
Discus Throw, Handicap Men 6
Hammer Throw, Handicap Men 5
56-pound Weight Throw, Handicap Men 3
Team, Handicap Men 3
100 metres, Professionals Men 1
400 metres, Professionals Men 1
1,500 metres, Professionals Men 1
5,000 metres, Professionals Men 1
6-hour race, Professionals Men 1
110 metres Hurdles, Professionals Men 1
2,500 metres Steeplechase, Professionals Men 1
High Jump, Professionals Men 1
Long Jump, Professionals Men 1
Shot Put, Professionals Men 1
1,500 metres Wheelchair Men 6
Bladdering Men 1
3,000 metres Women 3
80 metres Hurdles Women 8
10 kilometres Walk Women 2
Pentathlon Women 5
800 metres Wheelchair Women 6
50 yards Boys 3
100 yards Boys 9
220 yards Boys 9
440 yards Boys 7
880 yards Boys 6
1 mile Boys 6
2 miles Boys 1
5 miles Boys 1
120 yards Hurdles Boys 5
220 yards Hurdles Boys 5
4 × 220 yards Relay Boys 1
4 × 440 yards Relay Boys 3
56-pound Weight Throw Boys 1
Team Boys 6