11 August 2008

A description of the sprints

Sprints generally include the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and 4 x 100m relays.

Sprints at world-class events generally include the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and 4 x 100m relays.

The sprints are arguably the highlights of the Commonwealth/Olympics, with the 100 metre finals perhaps the most anticipated of all. Medallists attain something near god-like status.

Athletics is undisputedly one of the oldest sports. Today’s international events don’t much resemble the games which started as a largely religious festival 3000 years ago. For a start, competitors are dressed (the word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnos”, meaning nude). Women are also now allowed as spectators, although some historians say unmarried women were allowed to attend in ancient times.

There’s a purity about running that evades more high-tech events. Whether it’s sprints, middle-distance, road running, hurdles or relays, the event consists of an area that must be covered before your competitors do.

The tension of being under starter’s orders is always shared by the crowds. But today’s spectators are better off than those in ancient Greece, when up to 40 000 would gather in 33-degree temperatures.


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