It’s officially here. The largest gathering of the world’s greatest athletes only happens once every four years. The Summer Olympics have come to Rio; sports fans are in for a treat this year as the world’s fastest, strongest and most talented compete to receive the greatest gold medal.
Most people are aware that The Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece. The original champions of the games were not given medals; they were crowned with olive branches. The Ancient Greeks had the ability to fashion gold medals, but they felt that the winners of the games should be awarded with branches from Mt. Olympia.
When the modern games began in 1896, the awards for the summer games had not been standardized yet (the winter games didn’t begin until 1924). Winners of those games were given silver medals and an olive branch. The winners of the 1900 games were awarded either trophies or cups depending on the sport that they played. It wasn’t until 1904 that the 1st place winner was given a gold medal.
The 1904 Olympic games in St. Louis were the first to see the 1st place winner of each category receive a gold medal, 2nd place receive silver and 3rd place receive bronze. 1912 saw the last use of pure gold for the Olympic 1st place medal. Now, the gold medal is comprised of up to 93% silver with a gold coat. It is required of the host country to mine the materials for each of the medals awarded.
The designs for the medal have changed almost every four years. The back of the medal is typically adorned with a reference to the host country’s culture, while the front is almost always a recognition of athletes or the Trionfo design.
This year, thousands of athletes will compete for their home nations in a competition that is now 120 years old. The glory of the gold medal is second to none in most sports and any athlete in possession is known to be the best of their time.
At Spike’s Trophies, we’ll be watching the games and the ceremonies that follow. To celebrate the winners in your life, check out our personalizable plaques and trophies.