History Of Track And Field

Track and Field History

Track and field is one of the oldest sports in the world, with ancient origins dating back thousands of years. Read on to learn more about the history of track and field, including where it was invented and who pioneered the sport.

Country of Origin

Track and field originated in Greece. The sport premiered as the sole event of the ancient Olympics, the first edition of which was held in 776 BC. These Olympics happened a long time ago, so their history is not extremely clear. However, it is known that track and field was the first event.


There is no one person credited for inventing the sport of track and field. Rather, it is the country of Greece who started the Olympics which receives the credit. The first organized competition featuring track and field was at the first Ancient Olympics in 776 BC. However, one notable figure in the early days of track and field is Coroebus. A cook at the time of the first Olympics, Coroebus won the first ever Olympic event: the stadium race.


Track and field is believed to have been played for the first time in 776 BC at the first Ancient Olympics. There is some historic evidence which suggests that the Ancient Olympics may have begun even earlier. The Olympics were, however, banned in 394 AD.

In 1849, the Royal Military Academy in Britain held the first collegiate track and field meeting. In the 1860s, the sport began to grow quite a bit. The first ever English Championships were held in 1866. This competition was made for amateurs, or people who had never made money off their skills. To the day, this competition still exists.

In 1880, the Amateur Athletic Club, which had designed the English Championships, was replaced by the Amatuer Athletic Assocation. This allowed for the official organization of track and field as a modern sport. At the inaugural 1896 Olympics, track and field was one of the first sports played, beginning a century of increasing popularity for the sport.


Track and field certainly was popular when it was pioneered in the Ancient Olympics. However, it didn’t see much modern popularity until the 1860s. The creation of the Amateur Athletic Club in 1880 then allowed the sport to be organized and led to the first ever English Championship. When the Modern Olympics first happened (in 1896), track and field grew even more popular.

Track and field is currently most popular in the following countries:

  • U.S.A.
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Ethiopia
  • Great Britain
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa

Key Facts and Timeline

  • 776 BC: Track and field’s first competition at the first Olympics Games
  • 334 AD: Olympics banned
  • 1100: Brief revival of track and field in Great Britain
  • 1849: First ever collegiate track and field meet
  • 1860: Track and field begins to gain popularity
  • 1896: Modern Olympics begin


When was track and field invented?

Track and field was invented by the Ancient Greeks in 776 BC, when the first Ancient Olympic Games took place in Olympia. However, running, jumping, and throwing events can be traced back even further to military training exercises in ancient cultures over 15,000 years ago.