This distance is similar to the ancient Greek sprint event the "stadion" (literally length of the stadium), but it derives from a mile-based distance, the furlong, or one-eighth of a mile.
In the USA, the 200m was run in a straight line until around 1960. A curve was only included in Europe and at the Olympics, where the distance first appeared in 1900. The 200m with a full bend on a 400m track became universally accepted in 1958, when two distinct sets of records began to be kept.
The 200m specialist must combine the basic speed of the 100m sprinter with a running technique that allows him to cope with centrifugal forces when sprinting around the bend. Times in a 200m straight race were estimated to be around 3 to 4/10ths of a second faster than races including a bend.