Athletics is a collection of sporting events that involve competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking.

The most common type of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and race walking. The simplicity of the competition, and the lack of a need for expensive gear, makes athletics one of the nearly everyone commonly competed sports in the world. Organized exercise are traced back to the Ancient Olympic Games from 776 BC, and most modern events are conducted by the member clubs of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The athletics meeting forms the backbone of the contemporary Summer Olympics, and other leading international meetings include the IAAF World Championships and Championships.

The word athletics is derived from the Greek word "atlas", meaning "contest". Initially, the term was used to describe athletic contests in universal ? i.e. sporting competition based primarily on human physical feats. In the 19th century in Europe, the term athletics acquired a more narrow definition and came to describe sports involving competitive running, walking, jumping and throwing. These definitions continue to be the most prominent one in the United Kingdom and the majority of the areas of the former British Empire.

Furthermore, foreign words in numerous Germanic and Romance languages which are related to the term athletics also have a similar meaning.