From olive wreaths to old cell phones and recycled metals derived from electronics, the awards won at the Olympics, the most accomplished achievement in an athlete’s life, have come a long way, just like the Games themselves. Made from recycled electronic devices and shaped pebbles, the upcoming Tokyo Games medals will be 8.5 inches in diameter with Nike, the Flying image of the Greek Goddess of Victory. But, unlike in previous years, they will be produced in gold, silver and bronze (in this case, copper and zinc), excluding 79,000 tonnes of used mobile phones and other small electronic devices donated by the Japanese population.
Athletes who emerged victorious at the ancient Olympics were awarded “Kotinos” or olive wreaths, which were considered a sacred prize in Greece, representing the highest honor.
In 1896, the lost tradition of ancient Greece, the Olympic Games were reborn in Athens.
With the revival, new practices gave way to the elderly and so the custom of awarding medals began – silver for the winners, while the runners-up received a bronze or bronze medal.
In front of the medal was Zeus, the father of the gods, and the Games were held in his honor, when he held Nike, while vice versa showing the Acropolis.
Eight years later at the 1904 St. Louis Games, gold, silver, and bronze medals were now used for the first time.
Metals in Greek Mythology represent the first three eras of man: the Golden Age – when men lived among the Gods, the Silver Age – when youth lasted a hundred years, and the Bronze Age, or the Age of Heroes.
Over the next century, the precious prizes would vary in shape, size, weight, composition, and the image carried.
In 1923, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched a competition for sculptors to design medals for the Summer Games.
The design of the Italian artist Giuseppe Cassioli was chosen as the winner in 1928.
The front of the medal was embossed, with Nike holding the palm in his left hand and the Crown for the Winner on the right, the image of the Colosseum in the background and vice versa.
This design lasted quite a while.
While host cities were allowed to recreate the reverse of the medal since the 1972 Munich Games, the reverse only changed at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The new representation of Nike, flying to the 1896 Panathenaic Stadium, to deliver the strongest, tallest, and fastest victory, replaced the oldest.
Until the 1960s, the winners had medals but the Olympic Games in Rome had a necklace-shaped design that allowed athletes to wear the precious necklace property thanks to a chain.
Four years later, the chain opened with colored ribbons.
Interestingly, gold medals are not made entirely of yellow metal. The 1912 Stockholm Games were the last time a metal Olympic medal was won. Now, they are covered with that.
According to COI guidelines, a gold medal must contain at least 6 grams of gold. In fact, silver makes up the bulk of the medal.
China hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the first time to present medals made of materials other than metal.
Representing honor and virtue in traditional Chinese culture, the precious gem was inserted into the back of each medal.
At a time when environmental awareness was rising, the 2016 Rio Games made history by becoming the most enduring edition of Olympic history.
The organizers chose to use more recycled material.
In addition to the medals with 30 percent recycled materials, the attached ribbons were made from 50 percent recycled plastic bottles, while the gold was mercury-free.
Following in Rio’s footsteps, Tokyo Games organizers have chosen medals made from recycled electronic devices, including discarded laptops and mobile phones, the proposal won the “Everyone’s Medal” campaign launched in 2017 by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.
“I never dreamed that the design I presented would only be selected as a memento of this event in life,” design winner Junichi Kawanishi told the media when the media was launched.
“With their shiny rings, I hope the medals honor the efforts of the Athletes, reflect their Glory and symbolize friendship.”
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