The history of track events at the Olympic Games dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks. It is believed that the first ever track event was the stadium race, in which runners raced about 192 meters. Winners of track races have been recorded since 776 B.C., according to Olympic.org, and popularity of the sport has remained high ever since.
Track Events at the Modern Olympic Games
By the time the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, Europeans had been holding races for hundreds of years, though the first meet records date to 1840. By the 1880s, popularity had once again grown throughout the world, and by 1894, the International Olympic Committee had decided to include track events as part of the 1986 Olympic program.
Track events have remained as part of the Olympic Games ever since, though the format and events scheduled have changed a bit throughout the years. In the first Olympic Games, only men were allowed to compete in the track events, and just six men's track events were held. Those events included the 100-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, 1,00-meter, marathon and 110-meter hurdles.
Women's Track Events Are Added to the Olympic Games
It wasn't until 1926 that the International Olympic Committee voted to allow women to compete in track events at the 1928 Olympic Games. Even then, there were only a few events available to female competitors. In 1928, women competed in the 100-meter, 800-meter and 4x100-meter relay.
The same year, the men's track program began to stabilize, with consistent events included at each Olympic Games. Before long, the women's program would follow suit. Today, men and women compete in programs that mirror one another, though it did take until 1984 for women to compete in the Olympic marathon for the first time.
Track Events at the London Olympic Games
In London, the majority of track and field events are scheduled to be held at the Olympic Stadium, while the marathon will be held at The Mall. In total, 2,000 athletes are expected to compete in the events, which will begin on Aug. 3, 2012 and end on Aug. 12, 2012.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
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