One of the first athletic events in the 1960 Paralympic Games in Rome was track and field, in which 10 countries participated in 25 medal events, which made track and field the most popular sport. Track and field continued to gain popularity, and at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, 1,130 participants competed in athletics. This turnout was one of the largest for any sport in the history of Paralympic Games.
Track and field comprises different events. Track includes 800-meter and 1500-meter middle distance races; 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relay races; 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter sprints and 5000-meter and 10000-meter long distance races. Additionally, filed events can range from shot put, discus and javelin to long jumps and high jumps. The events can also include a marathon. Participants for each event are classified according to their ability or disability level, such as 11 to 13 for visually impaired athletes and 20 for athletes with intellectual disability. The numbers are also paired with the two different types of sports events the athletes will participate, which are classified as F for field and T for track.
Different types of International Paralympic Committee regulated equipment are used during the athletic events. Prosthetics are engineered to resist ground forces, and racing chairs are designed to be lightweight for increased maneuverability. Sighted guides are also used by blind athletes for assistance and are often tethered to the athlete with a rope that is connected to the athlete's wrist. In addition, guides are used to help position athletes and provide verbal cues before an event.