Athletics have been practiced throughout recorded sports history. The first event in the ancient Olympic Games was known as the stadium race, which was a sprint of about 192 meters. Winners in the event are recorded from as far as 776 BC. The athletic events of the ancient Olympic Games included foot races, races in armor, and a pentathlon event that included long jump, javelin throw, and wrestling.
In the first modern Olympiad, the 1896 Summer Olympics, a total of 25 medals were awarded to the victors of the 12 athletic competitions held. The original structure of the awards were different as 12 silver medals were given for winners,13 bronze for the runner-ups, and none for those in third place. These medals were later adjusted to modern medals which translated to 12 gold, 13 silver, and 12 bronze. Of those 12 athletic events held, the United States won the gold medal in 9 different competitions.
Before the 2012 Olympics, the United States had an overwhelming lead in all-time track and field medals with a total 730 medals, with the closest country to that count being the USSR with 214. We have now added to that total at the 2012 Olympics with 29 new medals won. The University of Houston has also contributed to that total, helping train eventual Olympic Champions Leroy Burrell, Joe DeLoach, Ollan Cassell, and Carl Lewis. In the University of Houston Digital Library, you can find many interesting photos of UH Athletics and photos of our athletes during their time at the University of Houston. To see the full Houstonian Yearbook Collection, click here.