Field Events in the 2012 London Summer Olympics

Besides sprints, relays, and road races, the athletics competitions at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games include jumping and throwing field events. Men and women compete in four jumping events — high jump, long jump, triple jump, and pole vault — and four throwing events — shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer.

The field events are called the athletics competition, a name that dates back to the ancient Greek Games. The athletics competition is one of the largest categories in the Olympic Games, featuring 47 separate events. Each participating country can enter only three athletes in each individual event. Every Olympic Games — since the first games in 776 BC and the first modern Olympics in 1896 — has featured field athletics events.

The jumping and throwing events take place inside and outside the oval track in Olympic Stadium. Multiple events within the athletics category will be going on at the same time. The field events begin with a qualifications round. The competitors who throw farther or jump higher with the fewest penalties go on to the finals.

The following table offers a basic glimpse at the schedule of field events. Note that the schedule could be changed at any time.

Men's Jumping Event Qualification Finals
High jump Aug. 5 Aug. 7
Long jump Aug. 3 Aug. 4
Triple jump Aug. 7 Aug. 9
Pole vault Aug. 8 Aug. 10
Men's Throwing Event Qualification Finals
Shot put Aug. 3 Aug. 3
Discus Aug. 6 Aug. 7
Javelin Aug. 8 Aug. 11
Hammer Aug. 3 Aug. 5
Women's Jumping Event Qualification Finals
High jump Aug. 9 Aug. 11
Long jump Aug. 7 Aug. 8
Triple jump Aug. 3 Aug. 5
Pole vault Aug. 4 Aug. 6
Women's Throwing Event Qualification Finals
Shot put Aug. 6 Aug. 6
Discus Aug. 3 Aug. 4
Javelin Aug. 7 Aug. 9
Hammer Aug. 8 Aug. 10

When two or more athletes for the high jump and pole vault events are tied for the best jump, the officials use a process called a countback to determine the winner.

For those who aren't familiar with track and field events (from high school athletics events or otherwise), the triple jump and some of the throwing events might need some explanation:

  • Triple jump: Much as the name implies, the triple jump has three phases — a hop, a skip, and a jump. On the hop, athletes jump off one foot; on the skip, athletes land on the same foot and jump again; on the jump, athletes land on the other foot and jump into the landing pit.

  • Shot put: Participants "push" rather than throw a heavy metal ball as far as possible.

  • Javelin: Athletes run with the javelin (a spear that is about 2.5 meters long) in order to gain momentum prior to the throw. Throwing techniques are regulated strictly by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

  • Discus: Olympians attempt to throw what is basically a heavy version of a Frisbee farther than their competitors.

    Athletes throw the discus or the hammer from within an area known as the cage. The throwing circle is 7 meters from the mouth of the cage, which is 6 meters wide.

  • Hammer: Although the name would imply that the competitors are throwing hammers, they are actually throwing heavy metal balls attached to a wire and handle. Again, the object is to throw the ball farther than the competition.

For more information about field events, check out the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the sport's governing body.

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