I just presumed that Olympic medals were made out of gold? When upon further research they haven’t actually been made from solid gold since 1912 Stockholm Games in Sweden. Would you believe me that Gold medals are actually made up of 92% silver? They actually only have 6 grams of solid gold on them and this is plated on top. Let alone the medal is actually made out of 7.5% copper! So not solid gold. The weight of the medal is referenced as about half a bag of sugar (0.25kg), who wants to carry that around your neck?
Did you know the first ever Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is commonly believed that the Games had been going on for many years already) It goes without saying that the Olympic gold medal is extremely valuable, both in terms of its precious metal value and its historic value. There are only four people in the entire world that have known to have sold their Olympic gold medals.
In 2004 Anthony Ervin made the decision to sell his gold medal that he had gained for swimming in 2000, eventually the medal went for $17,000! Otylia Jedrzejczak from Poland who also won her gold medal in swimming sold hers for $80,000. Since then Mark Wells, from the US won his gold medal in 1980 for Hockey, when he decided to sell his medal in 2010 it went for the whopping price of $310,000! Finally Wladimir Klitschko from Ukraine won his gold medal for boxing in 1996 and he sold it earlier this year for $1,000,000!!!
In comparison, the silver medal — made up of 93% silver and 7%copper – so silver is the only medal that is actually made of what it is called! In that case who wouldn’t prefer to have a medal that is actually made out of what it says it is?
The bronze medal, mostly made of copper – again lies! Why isn’t it called the copper medal? (Probably because it doesn’t sound that good!). Part of me thinks it’s cheating, you wouldn’t have glass trophies that’s not made out of glass!
The Gold Post Boxes
In order to honour our Olympic champions, anyone who achieved a Gold medal in 2012 could pick their hometown post box (the one closest to where they live) and then they were painted the iconic Royal Mail Red post boxes gold in order to celebrate Team GB and Paralympics GB gold medal win at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
Over all of the Olympic Games the United States has the most medals with a monstrous 2,401! The Soviet Union comes second with 1,010 and Great Britain comes a close third with 781! Go Great Britain! Michael Phelps of the US has the most Olympic gold medals (14 total in 2004 and 2008) and the most medals by a male athlete (16 including his 2 bronze medals).
First place winners in the 1900 Paris Olympics received paintings instead of gold medals because they were considered to be more valuable and did you know that there was more athletes than spectators attended the 1900 Olympics? If we compare that to how popular the Games are nowadays, the growth is enormous!
How do they make the Medals?
The medals are struck five times and then heated to over 1300° F and further pressed for 15 minutes every time with the weight of nearly two million pounds. Check out these facts:
- Over 800 people were involved in making the medals for London Olympics 2012 alone!
- Each medal takes 10 hours to make on a giant press named Colossus; for 3 gold medals that’s 30 hours!
- The image on the front of the medal is that of ‘Nike’ who is better known to be the Greek Goddess of Sport
- The first use of a victory podium was in 1932
- The Olympic rings cover every flag in the world, with the colours; yellow, green, red, black and blue – at least one of those colours appears in every flag in the world!! Try and find one without it…I dare you.
- No white person has ever run 100 meters in under 10 seconds
- China didn’t win its first medal until 1984!
- The Olympics once lasted 187 days, in 1908, the London Olympics went on for 187 days!