In winning the triple jump (then known as hop, step and jump) at Athens in 1896, James Connolly from the United States became the first Olympic champion in over 1500 years.

The first events for women were not held until the 1928 Games in Amsterdam when the 100m, 4x100m relay, 800m, high jump and discus were contested. With the inclusion of the women’s 3000m steeplechase at Beijing 2008, the number of athletics events for women reached 23, just one less than the men with the 50km walk the additional event.

Paarvo Nurmi of Finland and American Carl Lewis have each won nine athletics gold medals. Nurmi won his Olympics titles in six different events from Antwerp 1920 through to Amsterdam 1928. Two of his gold medals at Paris 1924, in the 1500 metres and 5000 metres, were won less than two hours apart. Nurmi also won three silver medals. Lewis won his Olympic titles in four different events from Los Angeles 1984 through to Atlanta 1996, including four consecutive long jump gold medals. The only other athlete to win the same event four times in succession was American Al Oerter in the discus from Melbourne 1956 through to Mexico City 1968. Ray Ewry also of the United States won eight gold medals in the standing jumping events from Paris 1900 through to London 1908.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt joined the record books at Rio 2016 to also have nine athletics gold medals to his name. Regarded as the fastest human ever timed, he is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic time became mandatory. Bolt first gained worldwide popularity for his double sprint victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in world record times. He has won the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay at three consecutive Olympic Games, and is an 11-time World Champion.