The 47 athletics events are the most of any sport on the Olympic program. They can be divided into five groups:

Track events (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, 110m hurdles – men, 100m hurdles – women, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay

Throwing events (shot put, discus, hammer, javelin)

Jumping events (high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump)

Combined events (decathlon – men, heptathlon – women)

Road events (marathon, 20km race walk, 50km race walk – men)

Athletics - Men's

On the track, all events 1500m and shorter include three rounds of competition (heats, semifinals, final). The 5000m, steeplechase, and relays are two rounds (heats, final) while the 10,000m is just one race.

In the throwing events, only the best attempt is counted for each athlete. After three attempts in a qualification round, the top 12 advance to the final where following their first three attempts, the top eight receive three more attempts to improve their placement.

In high jump and pole vault, athletes can enter the competition at any height and pass on any height, but three consecutive failures leads to elimination until one athlete remains. In long jump and triple jump, only the best attempt is counted for each athlete. After three attempts in a qualification round, the top 12 advance to the final where, following their first three attempts, the top eight receive three more attempts to improve their placement.

Donovan Bailey at the 1996 Olympics

In the combined events, athletes are awarded points which correlate to the times/measurements achieved in each event. The decathlon is 10 events (100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500m) while the heptathlon is seven events (100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin, 800m), both held over two days.

The road events are all mass starts. In the race walks, athletes must always have one foot in contact with the ground and completely straighten their leg on each stride. Three violations leads to disqualification.

Canada’s Olympic History

 

With 60 Olympic medals, Canada has won more medals in athletics than in any other sport. Canada won six athletics medals at Rio 2016, the country’s best total since the nine won at Los Angeles 1932.

Derek Drouin became Canada’s first Olympic champion in a field event since those Games, winning gold with a clean sheet, just the sixth high jumper to ever do so in Olympic history. It was Canada’s fourth ever men’s high jump medal, following Greg Joy’s silver at Montreal 1976, Duncan McNaughton’s gold at Los Angeles 1932 and his own bronze at London 2012, where he was part of a three-way tie for bronze  Andre De Grasse became the first Canadian track athlete to ever win three sprint medals, taking silver in the 200m and bronze in both the 100m and 4x100m relay. Canada was also the only country to win medals in both combined events, as Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Damian Warner won bronze in the heptathlon and decathlon, respectively.

Philip Edwards

There was a pair of bronze medals at Beijing 2008 as Priscilla Lopes-Schliep won Canada’s first Olympic medal on the track since Atlanta 1996, where Donovan Bailey became the “world’s fastest man” by winning the 100m gold in world record time and then anchored the 4x100m relay team to gold. Dylan Armstrong captured Canada’s first Olympic throwing medal since Stockholm 1912 when Duncan Gillis won hammer throw silver.

The most medals won by a single athlete is the five bronzes that Phil Edwards earned from 1928 to 1936. It was at Los Angeles 1932 that Canada achieved its greatest total medal haul in athletics, winning nine medals.

Amsterdam 1928 stands out as perhaps Canada’s greatest Olympic Games in athletics. Women competed in athletics for the first time, leading to the first female members of a summer Canadian Olympic Team. They won four medals, including gold in the high jump by Ethel Catherwood and the 4x100m relay. Percy Williams is the star of the sprints, becoming the only Canadian to achieve double gold in the 100m and 200m.

Canada’s first ever Olympic medals came in athletics thanks to George Orton, who won 2500m steeplechase gold and 400m hurdles bronze in the span of an hour at Paris 1900.