History behind Ele’s medal

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OBVERSE: Nike with the Athens Panathinaiko Stadium.

OBVERSE: Nike with the Athens Panathinaiko Stadium. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Ele Opeloge’s medal is from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and was designed by Xiao Yong.

The obverse or face, shows Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, with the Athens Panathinaiko Stadium; the world’s only stadium made entirely of marble.

The reverse features a jade ring with the Beijing Games logo in the centre and the event details on the outer edge

There are three classes of Olympic medal: gold, awarded to the winner; silver, awarded to the 1st runner-up; and bronze, awarded to the 2nd runner-up. 

Medal designs have varied considerably since the first Olympic Games in 1896, particularly in size and weight. 

In addition to generally supporting their Olympic athletes, some countries provide sums of money and gifts to medal winners, depending on the classes and number of medals won.

The olive wreath was the prize for the winner at the Ancient Olympic Games. It was an olive branch, of the wild-olive tree that grew at Olympia, intertwined to form a circle or a horse-shoe. 

When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896 medals started to be given to successful Olympian competitors. However, gold medals were not awarded at the inaugural Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece. The winners were instead given a silver medal and an olive branch, while runners-up received a laurel branch and a copper or bronze medal. 

In 1900, most winners received cups or trophies instead of medals.

Ele Opeloge’s medal is from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and was designed by Xiao Yong.
Ele Opeloge’s medal is from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and was designed by Xiao Yong.

The custom of the sequence of gold, silver, and bronze for the first three places dates from the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has retroactively assigned gold, silver and bronze medals to the three best placed athletes in each event of the 1896 and 1900 Games. If there is a tie for any of the top three places all competitors are entitled to receive the appropriate medal according to IOC rules. 

Medals are not the only awards given to competitors; every athlete placed first to eighth receives an Olympic diploma. Also, at the main host stadium, the names of all medal winners are written onto a wall. Finally, as noted below, all athletes receive a participation medal and diploma.

The IOC dictates the physical properties of the medals and has the final decision about the finished design. Specifications for the medals are developed along with the National Olympic Committee (NOC) hosting the Games, though the IOC has brought in some set rules: 

First place (the “Gold” medal): It is composed of silver of at least .925 grade, plated with 6 grams of gold.

Second place (the “Silver” medal): .925 silver. 

Third place (the “Bronze” medal): It is mostly copper with some tin andzinc; the metal value was about US$3 in 2010. 

Additional information from Wikipedia.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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