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Athletics Rules and Equipment

Athletics - Field


The aim is for the competitor to throw the discus as far as possible using the correct technique.

They must stand within the marked circle, spin one and a half times to build up speed and then release the discus.

The competitor must remain in the circle until the discus has landed.

The throw is measured from the circle to the landing place.



The discus is a wooden plate with a metal rim around the circumference. Each side is flat and smooth in the shape of a circular disk.

Women use a 1kg discus with a diameter of about 18cm.

Men use a 2kg discus with a diameter of about 21cm.

The throwing circle is 2.5 metres.


Similar to Discus, a hammer thrower aims to throw the hammer further than any of their competitors.

The competitor uses two hands to swing the hammer around themselves, building up momentum before releasing it into the field.

Competitors are not permitted to step outside of the throwing circle until the hammer has landed. Each competitor has three attempts with the best effort counting towards their score.



The hammer consists of three parts – head, wire and the grip. The head is a metal ball not unlike a shot put. The wire is between 116 and 121.5 cm in length depending on whether it’s the women’s or men’s event.

Hammer throwers usually wear gloves to protect their hands from the metal and wire and to assist with grip.

The throwing circle is 2.135 metres.

Shot Put


The main aim of Shot Put is to throw the shot put as far as possible.

The correct technique involves the athlete resting the shot put against their neck and using all their strength to project the shot put into the field.

Some competitors gain momentum by spinning around in the throwing circle prior to release.

The competitor is not permitted to leave the throwing circle until the shot put has landed.

The throw is measured from the throwing circle to the landing place.

Each competitor has three attempts and the furthest shot is the winner.



The shot put is a round metal ball with a smooth, shiny surface. It varies in weight between 4kg for women’s events and 7.257kg for men’s events.

The throwing circle is 2.135 metres.

Long Jump


Athletes sprint down a long runway and at the white line, jump into a sand pit. The aim is to jump as far as possible - the winner will be the athlete that can jump the greatest distance.

The distance is calculated from the end of the runway to the nearest landing point measurement.

The athlete will be disqualified if they step over the white line when jumping.

There are six rounds in this event. The final three rounds are the finals, where only the top eight athletes compete.



The runway is made of the same material as running tracks, with a white line at the end marking the point where the athlete should jump. A layer of plasticine is fitted just past the white line to indicate whether the athlete’s foot went over the line at take-off.

The landing pit is generally filled with sand to cushion the impact.

Triple Jump


The athlete sprints along a runway until they reach the white line indicating the point where they should hop, step and then jump.

On the hop, they must land on the same foot used for take-off, then on the opposite foot on the landing of the step and finally with both feet on the landing of the jump.

There are six rounds in this event, the final three being the finals. The top eight competitors are permitted three attempts with their best attempt counting toward their score. The athlete to jump the furthest wins.



The runway is made of the same material as the running track with a marking at the end to indicate the jumping point.

The landing pit is generally filled with sand.

High Jump


The aim is to jump over the highest bar. At the beginning of competition the bar is set to a low height. As the competition progresses, the bar is raised until only one successful competitor remains. The athlete who can jump over the highest bar is deemed the winner.

An athlete will be disqualified if they do not successfully jump the bar or if they cause the bar to be knocked down three consecutive times.

If two athletes succeed in jumping the maximum height, then the winner will be the athlete with the least number of unsuccessful jumps.

Athletes are permitted to touch the bar as they jump over it as long as the bar does not get knocked down.





The bar is generally made of fibreglass or aluminium. It is 4 metres long and sits on two side poles of no specific height.



Ideally shoes for high jumpers should have a thick sole to aid support, and spikes in the heel to assist with grip at take-off.



A foam mat is positioned to cushion the athletes fall.

Pole Vault


A similar sport to High Jump, the main difference is the use of a bar to lift the athlete into the air. The aim is to sprint to the bar and successfully jump over it using the pole to lift into the air.

During the sprint, the athlete must hold the pole at shoulder height with the end pointing in the direction they are running. The pole is inserted into a box at the base of the bar and the athlete pushes upwards.

The pole must be released at the height of the jump.

Each athlete has three attempts to successfully jump over the bar.

The bar is moved higher when an athlete has successfully jumped each height.

An athlete is disqualified if they fail to successfully clear the bar in three consecutive jumps.

The winner is the athlete who can successfully jump the highest bar.



Athletes sprint down a runway holding a spear-shaped javelin. When they reach the throwing circle scratch line they are to throw the javelin as far as they can.

Athletes are not permitted to touch or step over the scratch line.

The throw is measured from the scratch line to the landing point.

Each athlete is given three attempts, with their best throw counting toward their score.

The athlete throwing the greatest distance is the winner.



The runway is made from the same materials as the running track and is 36.5 metres long. There is a scratch line at the end marking the point the athletes cannot touch or cross. 

Athletics - Track


Sprint events are usually held over 100m, 200m and 400m distances. Athletes use a starting block to assist with the initial take-off.

The starter will call “on your mark”, “set” and then fire the starting gun to indicate the beginning of the race.

Competitors must remain in their lanes throughout the race.



Four runners are required for each team in a relay. Each competitor runs a quarter of the track carrying the baton before passing it to the next competitor.

The baton exchange between competitors must take place within the specified ‘changeover box’. If the baton is dropped at the changeover, only the competitor who dropped it is permitted to pick it up.



The steeplechase is a race over 7 laps. The athlete is required to overcome obstacles during the race including 25 hurdles and 7 water jumps.



Competitors must sprint along the track (either 100m, 110m or 400m) overcoming hurdles along the way.



The competitor’s front foot must touch the ground before the other lifts off the ground.

For a brief moment both feet appear to be in contact with the ground simultaneously. It should never appear as though the walker has left the ground. Failure to comply with this rule is known as 'lifting'. If a competitor is in danger of ‘lifting’, they will be given a warning.

The front leg must be straight immediately after touching the ground.

A breach of the rules will result in a warning by the judges. Two warnings will result in disqualification.



The aim is to make it across the finish line before the other competitors.

There are no set starting positions. Competitors randomly take up a position at the starting line.

The sound of the starter’s gun indicates the beginning of the race. Should a competitor begin before the gun has been sounded, they will receive a warning. If it happens twice, the competitor will be disqualified.

Competitors are permitted to leave the course during the race for toilet breaks; however they must be supervised by a judge. Should a competitor leave the course without supervision, they will be disqualified.

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