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Olympic Medals Did Not Begin As Medallons We Know Today

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The Olympic games are an event rich in history, one that can be traced back almost as long as time. Dating back to 776 BC, the original Olympics did not award a gold medal as the winning prize; instead, the top competitors received crowns made from olive leaves. The olive wreaths would continue to be the traditional award every four years until the Olympic games were outlawed by the Roman emperor, Theodosius I, around 393 A.D.

In the late 19th century in 1896, Athens became the host of the reprised, and what we now considered the modern Olympics. This revival would continue the tradition of being held every four years and awarding the top three winners with a prize. However, the awards would take on a new appearance, making way for medals to become the norm.

At the first modern Olympics, the coveted prize for first place was a silver medal along with olive branches, as there was not yet enough money to hand out gold medals. Four years later, Paris hosted the games in 1900, showering the winners with valuable works of art, such as paintings and sculptures. It wasn’t until St. Louis hosted the event in 1904 that gold, silver, and bronze medals were handed out to their respective first, second, and third place winners and would continue as such until after the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

Since then, the Olympic committee and the host cities have awarded all gold medal winners a gold-plated silver medal. Each medal is carefully crafted and weigh 500 grams each. 494 of which is silver and the remainder of the 6 grams is the gold plating itself. This tradition of the gold medal construction began because gold can be extremely expensive, especially when considering there are over 5,000 awards made for both the Olympics and Paralympics.

The Olympics have become a beloved event. One in which the world exudes an overwhelming amount of love and pride every four years for their athlete's hard work and dedication. Though the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are now over, many are anxiously awaiting the 2020 games set to be held in Tokyo.

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