Are Olympic Gold Medals Really Made Out of Gold?

The gold medal is the highest wonder that can be won at the Olympic games.
The gold medal is the highest wonder that can be won at the Olympic games.

A gold medal is an award given mostly to athletes after a successful competition and having emerged on top of any given field or track event, or any other achievement. An Olympic gold medal is therefore given to best performers, and the medal is coated or plated with a fraction of gold at manufacturing. People who excel in the field of arts and academics also get awarded with gold medals though not always. Gold medals have been given since the eighteenth century.

Origin of the Gold Medal

During the eighteenth century, the Royal Danish Academy awarded gold medals to bright and outstanding students. The Congressional gold medal is given to people who have performed and made an impact on the American history and culture by the United States Congress. The Congressional gold medal was first awarded in 1776 to General George Washington. The first congressional medals were awarded to military officers who participated in America’s revolution in 1812. Later, many other categories of the congressional award were created. These categories are musicians, authors, entertainers, actors, explorers, aeronautics, and science among other fields. The American Red Cross became the first organization to be honored with the congressional award. By 2013, four people had been awarded this prestigious award.

The Military Medal

The military was given a medal of honor in recognition of their achievements at a certain period and were made of pure gold. The Congress would recommend to the president those worth of the military award and at the same time request that the president awards them. The commander of the military or the navy would be given the gold medal, and his juniors would receive a silver medal.

Competition Medals

In competitions, medals are classified into three categories namely, which include gold medal, silver medal, and bronze medal. The gold medal is made from gold or any other yellow metal. The Greek mythology says that the gold medal denotes the ages of man. Olympic medals are awarded to winners of sporting events in recognition of the achievements. Solid gold medals were awarded in the years 1904, 1908, and 1912 even though the medals were small in size. Before then, Olympic winners were crowned with olive wreaths made of olives and much later, in 1896, the winners of the summer Olympic games were awarded silver medals. The First World War saw the decline in the use of pure gold and also on the onset of the World War II. The last medals made of pure gold were awarded in 1912 in Stockholm at the Olympic Games.

How Gold Medals Are Made

Currently, gold medals are a mixture of at least 92.5% silver and a minimum of six grams of gold. The medal is always 3mm thick and 60mm in diameter. Designs on the Olympic medals have evolved over the years. Between 1928 and 1968, the design had Nike with Rome’s Colosseum in the background and a text indicating the host country. The flip side had a design of Nike saluting an Olympic champion. The Beijing Olympics saw a larger medal which was 70mm in diameter and 6mm thick. The design was also different in that the front had a winged figure of victory and the back had Beijing Olympic symbol surrounded by a jade circle inset.

Fields in Which Gold Medals Are Awarded

Many other sports competitions and competitive fields adopted the awarding of winners using medals. Such fields are writing, arts, music, games like chess and the likes. The winner in every field receives a gold medal, the second runners-up is awarded silver medal, and the third winner receives a bronze medal. Gold medals are awarded as a sign of recognition and appreciation for a good fight and also as an encouragement to do even better next time.

Other Gold Medal Awards

There is also an award called “Department of Commerce gold medal”, which is the highest given by the United States department of commerce. The UK also has PDSA Gold medal which is given by the UK’s people’s dispensary for sick animals. ALS gold medal is awarded by the Association of the Australian Literature. Photoplay gold medal is an award a cinematic award given for a Photoplay magazine. Robert Capa gold medal is awarded by the overseas press Club of America for the best photography.


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