World Masters Athletics (WMA) is the worldwide governing body for the sport of masters athletics – which includes track and field, cross country, and road running events – as participated by people over 35 years of age.
As the need became apparent, the organization started under the name of World Association of Veteran Athletes, founded August 9, 1977, at the second World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2001 the name was officially changed to World Masters Athletics and its championship is now called the World Masters Athletics Championships . The organization sanctions worldwide events, provides the age inspired specifications for rule modifications (a supplement to the rules of the sport by its worldwide governing body, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Prior to that, the sport was organized under the auspices of more localized bodies where the first official competitions were held, like the Interessen-Gemeinschaft Älterer Langstreckenläufer (IGÄL) formed in 1968 in Germany, British Veteran Athletic Club in Great Britain and the AAU in the United States. In 1972, the United States Masters International Track Team (USMITT) scheduled a tour of Great Britain and then Germany. to coincide with the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Those were the first deliberately scheduled international masters competitions for Track events. The World Veteran Long Distance Championships were already in existence as the older road runner was more common at that time.
At its founding, WAVA’s mandate was initially to cover Male athletes over the age of 40 and Female athletes over the age of 35. The younger women were invited to participate as their numbers were lower and it was observed younger wives might be excluded. The M35 (Men’s 35 year old) age division was later added to the Men’s division for equality in 1995. The scope has also expanded from initially track and field competitions (called “stadia” within the organization), to include road running, race walking and cross country running events (called cumulatively “non-stadia”, as these do not take place in a stadium).
World masters championships have been held outdoors every two years since 1975, and a biennial World Masters Indoor Championships debuted in March 2004 in Sindelfingen, Germany. The most recent outdoor world meet was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, October 15–27, 2013. The next outdoor meet is scheduled for Lyon, France August 4–16, 2015. The most recent Indoor Championships were held in Budapest, Hungary, March 25–30, 2014. The next indoor championships, skipping a year to be in odd number years, will be in Daegu, South Korea, March 19–25, 2017.
Results of the Stadia Championships are archived at Mastershistory.org
The first non-Stadia events were the World Road Running Championships in Birmingham, England in 1992 and has been held in even numbered years ever since.
WMA has been working to coordinate its outdoor championship schedule with the International Masters Games Association, which holds the multisport World Masters Games every four years.
Each individual country governs its own affairs with an organizational governing body that is an affiliate to WMA.