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Organized athletics can be traced back to the Ancient Olympic Games from 776 BC. The sport is essentially a collection of events that involves running, jumping, throwing and walking and currently forms the backbone of the Summer Olympics. The most common types of athletic meetings are track and field, which includes shorter sprint races, middle distance races and longer distance races of which the 10,000 metres is an example. These are the track events, while field events include long jump, high jump, javelin throw, discuss throw, hammer throw and shot put. Track and field are always performed within indoor or outdoor stadiums making it possible for spectators to view every event. Track also takes on a different format in cross-country races and road running. Cross-country races generally are only run on grassy tracks and across fields over a certain number of laps making it accessible for spectators to view the runners from designated areas. Road running most likely forms the biggest part of athletics and features in almost every country where main cities often host races starting at 10 kilometres up to marathons and ultra-marathons. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is the world governing body for the sport of Athletics and sets the rules and formats of the modern events as we see them today. Marathons are also categorized by the IAAF into a gold, silver and bronze label status. For example, the London Marathon or New York Marathon have a gold label status.   

Looking at the history of the IAAF and after the boom in participation sports of the 1800s, the International Amateur Athletics Federation was founded in 1912 by 17 other national athletic federations. It was through television coverage from the 1960s onward that organizers began to see the great commercial value in the sport, leading to a further rise in popularity among many more nations. This led to changes being made by the IAAF that would bring much greater benefit to the athlete. By 1982 the IAAF moved away from the concept of amateurism and three years later adopted trust funds for athletes. This paved the way for the emergence of higher performances and very talented athletes through financial incentives in races. Prize money was offered for the first time in 1997. The Olympic Games have always been the main event for athletes to participate at, but through the IAAF expansion programme, there are now eight World Athletics Series events. These are the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, World Junior Championships, Continental Cup, World Cross-Country Championships, World Race Walking Team Championships, World Half Marathon Championships and World Relays. The move to professionalism in athletics, led to a name change in 2001 to the International Association of Athletics Federations. Their headquarters are based in Monaco.   

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