Track and Field (athletics) is a sport which includes running, jumping and throwing. The name comes from where the sport takes place: a running track, and a grass field for the throwing and some of the jumping events. Track and field is categorized under the umbrella sport of athletics which also includes road running, cross country running, and racewalking.
Track and Field events are generally individual sports. The racing events are won by the athlete with the fastest time. The jumping and throwing events are won by the athlete who achieves the greatest distance or height.
Track and Field athletes compete on an oval shaped track exactly 400m around. All running events take on the track while other events require a different playing surface.
Most athletes tend to specialise in just one event type with the aim of perfecting their abilities, although the aim of combined events athletes is to become skilled in a number of disciplines.
Track and Field or Athletics – from the Greek word “athlos” meaning contest – is one of the world’s oldest sports. It has evolved over the thousands of years since the Greeks invented athletics with the first Olympics. The earliest recorded appearance of the sport was in 776 B.C., when the only event was a stadium-length footrace. During the following millenniums, a number of different running, jumping and throwing contests emerged and became part of the overall track and field event.
Track and field has been a prominent part of the World Transplant Games from the beginning, since the very first Games in Portsmouth, UK, in 1978.
Over the years, the number of competitors has increased, and the level of sports performance witnessed at the WTG has simultaneously risen. Nowadays, hundreds of transplanted track and field athletes fill up the stadium on two consecutive competition days, each with the desire to give their best while enjoying the unmatched feeling of camaraderie that this sport has to offer.
The number of Championships Records broken in the recent World Transplant Games of the 2010s showcases the development of outstanding sports performances. On the other hand, the growing number of track and field enthusiasts has led to the widening of the competitor profile, and a new age group for participants over the age of 80 was added in 2019. In the opposite end of the spectrum are the youngest participants. Seeing children finish a 25m or 50m dash in the arms of their parents is always a memorable highlight of the Games.
Track and field is a sport that can be a lot of fun to train for and take part in, regardless of one’s level of performance. It can provide a way of truly challenging oneself and exceeding personal goals, while at the same time making life-long friendships on those exciting competition days at the stadium.
“In 2019 I wanted to participate in the World Transplant Games in Newcastle. I received a new liver in 1995. Despite the fact that I have always been active in sports, I never had a chance to participate in the World Transplant Games. Competing in Newcastle was an unforgettable experience. The togetherness, contact with fellow recipients—everyone has the same experience, but their own story. Athletes meeting again after previous Games – really heart warming. The Olympic idea—participating is more important than winning—is of paramount importance here. This first experience has been truly unforgettable for me. The fact that I also won two medals makes the experience completely unforgettable. Hopefully my health will allow me to participate again in the next World Transplant Games. I would love to participate again, to have such a great experience again.” Erik Paalvast, Netherlands
100m start during WTG Sydney 1997 (the warming up track beside the Olympic Stadium of Sydney 2000 in construction)
Recent development has also been made in terms of adding new events such as javelin, as well as aligning throwing implement weight rules with the rules of the World Athletics. The latter allows participants to prepare for the Games by being able to practice and compete locally and nationally using the same implement weights that they will be using at the WTG.
Because Track and Field is a collection of events, training for them is often versatile. You may become experienced in speed, power and strength, endurance or even speed endurance – depending on the events you choose to compete in. Your training will be far from monotonous.
Track and Field events are technical events that do require getting used to, and so we recommend new participants to join a local track and field club or train with a knowledgeable coach. This will greatly increase your chances of reaching your goals at the WTG.
Participating in local and national competitions first is also a good way of getting familiar with typical competition settings and, of course, the technical rules of the sport.