Sport of athletics
2002 World Conference on Women and Sport
On behalf of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG), it is our very great pleasure to welcome you to the 2002 World Conference here in Montreal, Canada.
During the four years since our last conference in Windhoek, Namibia where we launched the Windhoek Call for Action, much has been happening around the world for women in sport. Thanks to your contributions, much of this is recorded in the Conference document "From Windhoek to Montreal - Women and Sport Progress Report 1998-2002".
Over the next few days, we will all be sharing experiences and things we have learned. As well, we will be taking time to celebrate achievements together and chart the course ahead. We hope that the "Montreal Toolkit", prepared as a legacy from the Conference will provide useful resources to help meet the challenges ahead.
Conferences provide a time to reflect, to gain new energy, to strike strategic alliances and to renew friendships. We would like to thank the Government of Canada (Sport Canada) for its generous support of this Conference and of the IWG over the last four years.
We wish all participants an enjoyable and stimulating Conference. Thanks to all of you for the work that you have done for women and sport.
Athletics is a collection of sporting events that involve competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking. The most common types of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and walking race.
The results of racing events are decided by finishing position (or time, where measured), while the jumps and throws are won by the athlete that achieves the highest or furthest measurement from a series of attempts. The simplicity of the competitions, and the lack of a need for expensive equipment, makes athletics one of the most commonly competed sports in the world. Athletics is mostly an individual sport, with the exception of relay races and competitions which combine athletes' performances for a team score, such as cross country.
In much of North America, athletics is synonymous with sports in general, maintaining a more historical usage of the term. The word "athletics" is rarely used to refer to the sport of athletics in this region. Track and field is preferred, and is used in the United States and Canada to refer to most athletics events, including racewalking and marathon running (although cross country running is typically considered as a separate sport).
Road running competitions are running events (predominantly long distance) which are mainly conducted on courses of paved or tarmac roads, although major events often finish on the track of a main stadium. In addition to being a common recreational sport, the elite level of the sport – particularly marathon races – are one of the most popular aspects of athletics. Road racing events can be of virtually any distance, but the most common and well known are the marathon, half marathon, 10 km and 5 km. The marathon is the only road running event featured at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics and the Summer Olympics, although there is also an annual IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. The marathon is also the only road running event featured at the World Para Athletics Championships and the Summer Paralympics. The World Marathon Majors series includes the five most prestigious marathon competitions at the elite level – the Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, and New York City marathons.