London 2012 Guide to…Athletics

  • Athletics

Athletic events form a major part of any summer Olympic Games, attracting athletes from more than 200 nations worldwide. At the Olympics, athletics is divided into four events – track, field, combined and road.

  • Focus on the track…

There will be a total of 24 events on the track in London’s Olympic Stadium, 12 for men and 12 for women, which range from the 100m sprint to the 10,000m race.

  • Focus on the field…

16 field events will be on show in London – eight each for men and women and these can be split into throwing or jumping events. Logically, throwing events see competitors throw objects, which include a javelin or a discus, while in the jumping events, athletes try to jump as high or as far as possible.

  • The combinations…

The decathlon (for men) and heptathlon (for women) see athletes compete in a number of different events and gain points depending on their performances.

  • Take to the road…

The five athletics road events in London this summer will all finish at The Mall. These will be the men’s and women’s marathons and 20km race walks, and the men’s 50km race walk.

  • So it’s all just a load of running?

In terms of the races, essentially yes, although as any athlete will tell you, there’s more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other. The shorter distances, i.e. 100m and 200m, are all about getting up speed as quickly as possible, whereas the longer events require more patience to time your run to perfection.

  • Awesome athletes

The most obvious is Usain Bolt, and if you haven’t heard of him, then frankly where have you been living these past four years? Ever since his explosive, record-breaking run in Beijing, the Jamaican sprinter has lit up every meeting he’s appeared at with his sauntering, easy-going style which delights the crowd.

Yelena Isinbayeva is another famous name to look out for. The Russian pole vaulter won gold in Beijing and Athens and has set an astonishing 27 world records so far in her career. Despite only finishing in sixth place in last year’s World Championships in Daegu, she will certainly want to put that right in August.

  • Local Hopefuls

London promises to be a key time for heptathlete Jessica Ennis. After being unable to compete in Beijing due to injury, the four years since then could hardly have gone better for the 25-year-old. Ennis was world champion in Berlin in 2009 and won a silver medal in 2011, so she will be desperate to keep up this level of performance to become an Olympic champion in London.

Long-distance runner Mo Farah became the first British man to take the world 5,000m title last year in Daegu. This followed a year when he was victorious in the 2010 European Championships, winning both the 5,000m and 10,000m. Farah only reached the semi-finals at the last Olympics, so will be looking to go one better in England’s capital.

And Finally…

Look out for: Usain Bolt – blink and you will more than likely miss him.

Not to be confused with: just the 100m – there are so many more events than just this!

Useless but informative fact: sprinters need approximately two hours to recover before they can achieve another maximum performance.

Athletics in two words: endurance, strength.

The athletics events will take place between Friday 3 August and Sunday 12 August.