Track and Field

Mo Farrah winning the 10,000 m Olympic Gold in 2016

Track and field is athletics and every four years it is the main sporting event of the Olympic Games. It is held in the main stadium which is usually acts as the central point for the 2-week Olympic event. In between the four-year cycle The World Championships are held and although important they are not held in the same esteem as the Olympics.

The athletics involves the quickest, the strongest and most explosive people in the world at the current time. If there is a sport with a need for endurance, it has to be athletics. The sprinters display vast amounts of anaerobic fitness levels. At the Olympics the eventual medallists will have had to have got through 4 rounds of races in 2 days. Running against the quickest people in the world, these explosive athletes need to prepare thoroughly for each round with extensive warm up routines, the races and then the warm downs. When the final starts the sprinters need to stay composed, so they don’t false start under the immense pressure. So psychological endurance is a major component of being a top-class sprinter as well as the physical area.

Away from the shortest race Britain’s Mo Farrah is a double-double gold winning Olympian. At both the London 2012 Olympics and the Rio 2016 Olympics he had to get through a 10,000-metre race and two 5000 metre races in the space of 7 days. The gruesome nature of these races makes this achievement amazing. His powers of recovery somehow enabled him to run at the highest level against the world’s greatest middle-distance runners despite a short period to recovery.

There are also the throwing events. The discus event is for strong, powerful, agile men who use their body to rotate around a circle in order to launch a lenticular disc weighing 2 kg down the field. In the Olympic Games there is a qualifying round followed by the final itself. In the final the top 8 competitors have 6 throws and the longer the competition goes the more fatigued the throwers become.

Christop Harting throwing in London 2017

In the 2016 men’s final Germany’s Christoph Harting waited for the final round to throw the Discus 68.37 metre to take the gold medal away from Poland’s Piotr Malachowski who had led for much of the day. The strength endurance required for this to happen is massive and proved what a superb all-round athlete Harting is.

Each athletic event is a great example of a particular area of endurance at work. However, the event that covers all aspects of endurance is the men’s decathlon. Held over two days the competitors have to compete in 10 events which starts with the 100 m and then in no particular order the 110 hurdles, the 400 m, the 1500 m, the shot, the discus, the javelin, the long jump, the high jump, the pole vault and always finishes with the 1500 m. Leaving the energy sapping 1500 m until last is quite appropriate as nearly all of the athletes literally collapse over the finishing line at the end. It is a tradition that all of the decathletes who finish the event take part in the lap of honour and not just the medal winners. This is hardly surprising as many have achieved world class performances in certain events despite being at the extreme of their lactate threshold. There few sports that tests the athletes’ endurance greater than track and field