The International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport's governing body, defines athletics in five disciplines: track and field, road running, race walking, cross country running, and mountain running.

All forms of athletics are individual sports with the exception of relay races. However, athletes' performances are often tallied together by country at international championships, and in the case of cross country the finishing positions of the top athletes from each team or country are combined to declare a team victor.

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