Track and Field: From Olympia, Greece to Minnetonka, Minnesota

Annika Tamte, Staff Writer

Track and field is the second most popular sport in the entire world. Track was first recorded in the Ancient Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece during the year 776 BC. The original games have developed into a new form that still includes elements of the original games. The Olympic Games included wrestling, boxing, pankration (a martial art combining wrestling and boxing), and equestrian events (horse and chariot races), all of which are not included in the current array of track and field events.

However, the original Games did include running and field contests. The running contests consisted of the stade foot race (the current 200m) and the diaulos (the current 400m foot race or two stades).

The original field events were the long jump and the javelin throw. Currently, the widely controversial javelin throw is not available at Minnetonka High School because of safety concerns, but it is still available at other high schools as well as at the collegiate level. The discus throw still contains a similar technique in the present day, but the materials of the discus have developed from raw materials, such as stone or iron, into refined materials, such as wood.

When the Ancient Olympic Games ended in 393 AD, it took the Olympic Games 1,503 years for their return in Athens, Greece in 1896.

James Finch, Boys Track and Field head coach, has been coaching at Minnetonka High School for the past five years and says he enjoys coaching because he is able to “see athletes compete in many different ways and show their true athleticism.”

Finch also says that since he has competed in high school, “more technology is available along with more tools to help athletes” and “safety in the case of concussions and equipment now has a greater focus as well.”

Presently, in high school track and field, many of the original events still exist. Athletes today can compete in the 100 Meter, 200 Meter, 400 Meter, 800 Meter, 1600 Meter, 3200 Meter, 100m/110m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Discus, Shot Put, and a variety of different relays.

Abby Hoekstra, ‘22 , says that she first decided to join track and field because she “wants to have a way to work out with other people”. It is also enjoyable that there is a “team aspect even though it is an individual sport.”

Whatever the reason an athlete joins track and field or the event they compete in, it is clear that ever since Ancient Greek times the sport has been an extremely diverse and rewarding one to participate in.