Athletics is without a doubt the largest individual programme in the whole Universiade, with over 1000 athletes involved in 50 disciplines. It has been present since 1959. In the following editions, several world records have been set, including one of the most long-standing: the 200 meters won by Pietro Mennea in Mexico City in 1979.
In the different editions of the Universiade, athletics has set many records and high-level individual performances. The medal collection of the discipline was won in Taipei by Japan, which won 16 medals, including 7 gold medals, followed by Poland with 14. Two more records were set in men’s javelin throw and women’s hammer throw.