Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the competition venue: a stadium with an oval running track around a grass field. The throwing and jumping events generally take place in the central enclosed area.
Track and field falls under the umbrella sport of athletics, which also includes road running, cross country running, and race walking. The two most prestigious international track and field competitions are held under the banner of athletics: the athletics competition at the Olympic Games and the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. The International Association of Athletics Federations is the international governing body for track and field.
Track and field events are generally individual sports with athletes challenging each other to decide a single victor. The racing events are won by the athlete with the fastest time, while the jumping and throwing events are won by the athlete who has achieved the greatest distance or height in the contest. The running events are categorised as sprints, middle and long-distance events, relays, and hurdling. Regular jumping events include long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault, while the most common throwing events are shot put, javelin, discus and hammer. There are also "combined events", such as heptathlon and decathlon, in which athletes compete in a number of the above events.
Records are kept of the best performances in specific events, at world and national levels, right down to a personal level. However, if athletes are deemed to have violated the event's rules or regulations, they are disqualified from the competition and their marks are erased.
In North America, the term track and field may be used to refer to athletics in general, rather than specifically track and field events.