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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).

and in 1840 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire at the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt.

The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich held an organised competition in 1849, and a regular series of closed meetings open only to undergraduates, was held by Exeter College, Oxford from 1850.

The rules and format of the modern events in athletics were defined in Western Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th century, and were then spread to other parts of the world.

Most modern top level meetings are conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations and its member federations.The original and only event at the first Olympics in 776 BC was a stadium-length running event known as the stadion.This later expanded to include throwing and jumping events within the ancient pentathlon.The United States also began holding an annual national competition – the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships – first held in 1876 by the New York Athletic Club.Athletics became codified and standardized via the English AAA and other general sports organisations in the late 19th century, such as the Amateur Athletic Union (founded in the US in 1888) and the Union des sociétés françaises de sports athlétiques (founded in France in 1889).Athletics is part of the Paralympic Games since the inaugural Games in 1960.

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