With the rise of numerous regional championships….as well as the growth in Olympic-style multi-sport events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Pan-American Games…..when competitions between international track and field athletes became widespread. From the 1960’s onwards….the sport of track and field gained more exposure and commercial appeal through television coverage….along with the increasing wealth of nations….so, after over half a century of amateurism….the amateur status of the sport began to be displaced by growing professionalism in the late 1970’s. As a result, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) was dissolved in the United States….and it was replaced with a non-amateur body solely focused on the sport of athletics called the Athletics Congress (later USA Track and Field). The IAAF soon followed suit in 1982….which abandoned amateurism and later removed all references to it from its name by re-branding itself as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The following year saw the establishment of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics….which was the first ever global competition just for athletics…which along with the Olympics….became one of track and field’s most prestigious competitions.
The profile of the sport reached a new high in the 1980’s….with a number of athletes becoming household names such as Carl Lewis, Sergey Bubka, Sebastian Coe, Zola Budd and Florence Griffith-Joyner….as many world records were broken in this period….and the added political element between competitors of the United States, East Germany, and the Soviet Union in reaction to the Cold War….simply served to stoke the sport’s popularity. The increase in the commercial capacity of track and field was also met with developments in the application of sports science….and there were many changes to coaching methods, athlete’s diet regimes, training facilities and sports equipment…..which was also accompanied by an increase in the use of performance-enhancing drugs….as state-sponsored doping in 1970’s and 1980’s East Germany and early 21st century Russia….as well as prominent individual cases such as those of Olympic gold medallists Ben Johnson and Marion Jones served to damaged the public image and marketability of the sport.
This 1985 IAAF World Championship competition as seen in this video herewith….serves as a wonderful example when the sport of track and field was humming along at a very popular pace around the world…. which makes this video a great piece of history that is well worth watching.