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London Olympics Information » About the Olympics » Olympic Symbols » Olympic Medals

Olympic Medals

The tradition of presenting medals to winners began with the start of the modern Olympics. In 1896, only silver medals were awarded to winners. It was in 1904 at the St. Louis Games that gold replaced silver as the medal bestowed to the top achievers. The medals presented in today's Olympic Games are made up of high-quality silver, gilded with pure gold. The obverse of each Olympic medal from 1928 to 2000 features Nike, the Greek goddess, with a palm in her left hand and a winner's crown in her right. The official name and year of the Olympiad and the name of the host city are also included, along with the coliseum of ancient Athens, a vase, the Olympic rings and a horse-drawn chariot. However, since the 2004 Olympics, the medals have depicted Nike flying into the Panathenic stadium. This picture makes a definitive reference to the Greek character of the Games. Also, each host city is allowed to design the reverse of the medal. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing represented Chinese culture with a ring of jade inlay.


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