The first recorded athletics event took place in 776 B.C. when the first Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece. The term "athlete" originated from the Latin word "athleta" and the Greek word "athletes" during the period of 1520-30, both of which related to contestants competing in public games and contests for prizes.
The first Olympic competition only had one event, which was a sprinting race of 192 meters (about 630 feet) won by a competitor named Coroebus. Following this competition, new events were added, including the ancient Olympic pentathlon, which included events still held at the Olympic Games today.
As the popularity of athletics grew, other sporting events began to occur in Europe throughout the ages, such as the Pythian Games in Greece and the Highland Games in Scotland.