Athletics abbreviations

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The sports under the umbrella of athletics, particularly track and field, use a variety of statistics. In order to report that information efficiently, numerous abbreviations have grown to be common in the sport.


Starting in 1948 by Bert Nelson and Cordner Nelson, Track & Field News became the leader in creating and defining abbreviations in this field. These abbreviations have also been adopted by, among others, World Athletics; the world governing body, various domestic governing bodies, the Association of Track and Field Statisticians, the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, the Associated Press, and the individual media outlets who receive their reports. These abbreviations also appear in Wikipedia.

Times and marks

Almost all races record a time. Evolving since experiments in the 1930s, to their official use at the 1968 Summer Olympics and official acceptance in 1977, fully automatic times have become common. As this evolution has occurred, the rare early times were specified as FAT times. As they are now commonplace, automatic times are now expressed using the hundredths of a second. Hand times (watches operated by human beings) are not regarded as accurate and thus are only accepted to the accuracy of a tenth of a second even when the watch displays greater accuracy. If the mark was set before 1977, a converted time to the tenth was recorded for record purposes, because they did not have a system to compare between the timing methods. Frequently in those cases there is a mark to the 100th retained for that race. Over this period of evolution, some reports show hand times also followed with an "h" or "ht" to distinguish hand times.

With two different timing methods came the inevitable desire to compare times. Track and Field News initiated adding .24 to hand times as a conversion factor. Many electronic hand stopwatches display times to the hundredth. Frequently those readings are recorded, but are not accepted as valid (leading to confused results). Some low level meets have even hand timed runners and have switched places according to the time displayed on the stopwatch. All of this is, of course, wrong. Hand times are not accurate enough to be accepted for record purposes for short races. Human reaction time is not perfectly identical between different human beings. Hand times involve human beings reacting, pushing the stopwatch button when they see the smoke or hear the sound of the Starting pistol, then reacting (possibly anticipating) the runner crossing the finish line. The proper procedure for converting hand times would be to round any hundredths up to the next higher even tenth of a second and then add the .24 to get a time for comparison purposes only. [1] But many meets displayed the converted marks accurate to the hundredth making the results look like they were taken with fully automatic timing. In these cases, some meets have displayed a 4 or a 0 in the hundredths column for all races. When detected, reports of these times are followed by a "c" or ' to indicate converted times.

Road race times are only considered accurate to a full second. To distinguish a full second time with hours, from a minute time with hundredths of a second, colons are used to separate hours from minutes, and minutes from seconds. A period is used to separate seconds from hundredths of a second.

Transponder timing is becoming more common. The RFID detection system times the transponder chip, usually located on a runner's shoe as opposed to the official timing of the torso. Accurate to a full second, this is not significant, but in breaking microscopic ties, the data does not correspond to timing rules. Most road races cannot fit all participants onto the start line. Depending on the size of the field, some athletes could be several city blocks away from the start line and in the large crowd, could take minutes to get across the line. Results frequently indicate two times, the "gun time" would be the official time from the firing of the starting gun, but the mat time shows the time the shoe crossed a sensing mat at the start line to the time the shoe crossed the sensing mat at the finish line.

Occasionally, when breaking ties using photo finish, times are displayed to the thousandth of a second. These times to the thousandth are not used for record purposes but times to the thousandth can be used to break ties between adjacent heats. Rules specify if a tie is broken this way, that all heats involved are recorded with the same timing system.


Most records are subject to ratification by the governing body for that record. On the world level, that is the IAAF. Each body has their own procedure for ratifying the records: for example, USATF, the governing body for the United States, only ratifies records once a year at their annual meeting at the beginning of December. Until a record is ratified, it is regarded as "Pending" which is sometimes indicated by a following P

When a U20 is added, it indicates an Under 20 record (an athlete is only considered as Under 20 if they are 19 or under before the end of the calendar year, any teenager who turns 20 before the end of any given calendar year, is considered a senior athlete )


Some records are ratified or tracked, but they are not to the same standard of quality or accuracy as a record. The term is "bests." IAAF lists bests for the Youth division and for road racing records such as the marathon. It also tracks athlete personal achievements as bests. A Y indicates Youth. A youth athlete has not reached or will not reach their 18th birthday in the calendar year of competition.

Circumstances and conditions

For events where wind assistance is a factor (outdoor races 220 yards or less, Long Jump and Triple Jump), the wind reading is usually reported in metres per second or "m/s"

Field events


Athlete disqualifications often reference the IAAF rule number under which the athlete was disqualified.

This is typically written in the format (false start as example): DQ R162.7 [3]


Organising bodies

The various organizing bodies of the sport are abbreviated into alphabet soup.

Publications and statisticians


Due to the large number of athletics events that are regularly contested, presentations of results and statistics often use abbreviations to refer to the events, rather than the full form.


Related Research Articles

Sport of athletics Sports involving running, jumping, throwing and walking

Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking. The most common types of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and racewalking.

Mens 100 metres world record progression

The first record in the 100 metres for men (athletics) was recognised by the International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as the International Association of Athletics Federations, in 1912.

Track and field Sport involving running, jumping and throwing disciplines

Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some of the jumping events. Track and field is categorized under the umbrella sport of athletics, which also includes road running, cross country running, and racewalking.

Marathon world record progression

This list is a chronological progression of record times for the marathon. World records in the marathon are now ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the international governing body for the sport of athletics.

The world record in the mile run is the best mark set by a male or female runner in the middle-distance track and field event. The IAAF is the official body which oversees the records. Hicham El Guerrouj is the current men's record holder with his time of 3:43.13, while Sifan Hassan has the women's record of 4:12.33. Since 1976, the mile has been the only non-metric distance recognized by the IAAF for record purposes.

European Athletic Association

The European Athletic Association is the governing body for athletics in Europe. It is one of the six Area Associations of the world's athletics governing body World Athletics. European Athletics has 51 members and is headquartered in Lausanne.

Iván Pedroso Cuban long jumper

Iván Lázaro Pedroso Soler is a retired Cuban track and field athlete, who specialized in the long jump, and the current coach of Nelson Évora, Yulimar Rojas and Ana Peleteiro.

Tora Lian-Juin Harris is an American high jumper. He is a Princeton University engineer of Taiwanese and African-American descent. Harris is an Olympian, a four-time national champion and two-time bronze medalist in international competition. He represented Team USA twice in the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, three times in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics and has served as a representative once in the IAAF Continental Cup. He spent two years as the No. 1 ranked high jumper in the United States.

1500 metres world record progression

The 1500-metre run became a standard racing distance in Europe in the late 19th century, perhaps as a metric version of the mile, a popular running distance since at least the 1850s in English-speaking countries.

The first world record in the 400 m for men (athletics) was recognized by the International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as the International Association of Athletics Federations, in 1912. The IAAF ratified Charles Reidpath's 48.2 performance set at that year's Stockholm Olympics as a world record, but it also recognized the superior mark over 440 yards run by Maxie Long in 1900 as a world record.

The first world record in the men's 400 metres hurdles was recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 1912. That inaugural record was the performance by Charles Bacon at the 1908 Olympics.

Dafne Schippers Dutch track and field athlete

Dafne Schippers is a Dutch track and field athlete. She competes primarily in the sprints, having previously participated in the heptathlon. She is the 2015 and 2017 World Champion and won silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 200 metres.

10,000 metres world record progression

The official world records in the 10,000 metres are held by Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei with 26:11.00 for men and Almaz Ayana from Ethiopia with 29:17.45 minutes for women. Sifan Hassan has the unofficial world record of 29:06.82, which occured at the FBK Games in Hengelo, The Netherlands, on 6 June 2021.


  1. "FAT vs Handheld Times". Gordie Richardson Oakland County 7th & 8th Grade Track Meet. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  2. "What does ND abbreviation stand for in athletics results". Sports Stack Exchange.
  3. Butler, Mark et al. (2013). IAAF Statistics Book Moscow 2013 (archived), p. 71. IAAF. Retrieved on 2015-07-06.