Coin (obverse and reverse) - commemorating the ancient Olympic Games (IAAF) © Copyright

More than 24 centuries of athletics history – IAAF Heritage

The first section of the IAAF Heritage World / Continental Cup - 1977 To 2018 – Exhibition in Ostrava’s Forum Nova Karolina Shopping Centre (5 June to 9 September) has on display, important artefacts covering more than 24 centuries of our sport up until the end of the 19th century.

“Athletics From Ancient Times To The End Of The 19th Century (part 1)”

Among the most evocative and valuable exhibits are a series of eight coins that vary in antiquity across almost a thousand years but commemorate the various Games and celebrations around the Mediterranean when the known world was predominantly governed by Ancient Greece and then Rome.

The first coin on display, indeed the first exhibit, appropriately commemorates the ancient Olympic Games and next is the oldest artefact in the exhibition, a coin that possibly dates as far back as 460 BC and certainly from the 5th century BC.

Traversing time very quickly through the middle ages and the subsequent centuries, many sports historians consider the birth of modern athletics to be around the middle of the 19th century.

The Exhibition traces the origins of our sport from this era with a series of exhibits – notably medals and material from periodicals – that focus on athletics’ development in Britain’s elite universities of Oxford and Cambridge as well as in the British military and the establishment of the first athletics clubs.

Further afield, athletics in a form that is recognisable today was starting to take hold in the cities on the east coast of the USA; where such events as the three-legged race, potato race and sack race might also be on an athletics meeting programme in addition to more conventional disciplines.

Continental Europe is not ignored and there are a series of exhibits which look at athletics’ history and development in France.

Our sport’s progress is recorded with a fascinating series of illustrations from that era. 

The first section of the exhibition concludes with exhibits relating to the Athens 1896 Olympic Games.

The IAAF Heritage World / Continental Cup - 1977 To 2018 - Exhibition is kindly supported by the International Athletics Foundation, ASICS, Seiko, TDK and Mondo and is delivered by IAAF Heritage along with the Czech Athletics Federation and the LOC of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018. We thank the Forum Nova Karolina Shopping Centre for their generous assistance in hosting the exhibition.