11 Aug /16

Olympic medal

Olympic medal
Olympic medal – Word of the day – EVS Translations

The Rio 2016 Olympics will award all successful athletes the heaviest medals ever in the history of the Summer Olympics. The 500 grams medals have been minted and designed according to environment sustainability criteria, highlighting the interrelationship between the power of athletes and natural forces. Keeping with Olympic tradition, the medals use the form of the laurel leaf (the Ancient Olympics’ winners were crowned with laurel leaves), the front bears the image of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, and two symbols of ancient and modern Greece, the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens and the Acropolis.

The Rio 2016 gold medals are plated with six gram of pure gold (extracted without the use of mercury), which is the minimum required by the International Olympic Committee, and which makes the value of a gold medal approximately $560, (if the entire medal was made of gold, as the practise was by 1912, it would be valued at nearly $22,000).

Outside of market value, an Olympic medal is priceless, and so is its history. The first Olympics of the modern era, the Athens 1896 Games, awarded the traditional laurel leaf crowns accompanied by diplomas and silver medals. The first Olympics to award the top three athletes with gold, silver and bronze medals were the St. Louis, USA 1904 Games, where the medals were attached to a coloured ribbon and pinned to the athlete’s chest. It was the Rome 1960 Games when the Olympic medal was first designed to hung around the winners’ necks.

Moving away from the Olympics, a medal has been a form of recognition of achievements in various areas, outside of sports, for thousand of years, with the first recoded instance coming from 4th century BC when a historian documented Alexander the Great awarding Priest Jonathan with a golden button for his successful battle contribution.

The word medal entered the English language circa 16th century from the Middle French médaille, itself from the Italian medaglia, deriving from either the Latin metallea (moneta) – meaning ‘coin’ or from medalia, meaning a coin worth half a denarius.

Obviously, the word entered the English vocabulary to name a coin-shaped cast metal, with the first attested usage, coming from a 1578 translation of A courtlie controuersie of Cupids cautels by Jacques Yves, referring to a medal as a devotional object: “They found a Turret, which was the Fisherman’s lodging, in the top whereof was in form of a Medal, the portraiture of a Nun holding a Lantern.”

And back to the Olympics for some Olympic medals’ statistics, from the record 206 nations competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, 75 have never won an Olympic medal before, US tops the rank of the countries that won most gold medals at modern Summer Olympics, yeah, Michael Phelps is the athlete who has won most Olympic medals, but let us not forget that there are also numerous athletes who made it to win Olympic medals at both Summer and Winter Olympics, and last, but not least: the first ever Olympic team of refugees is on its way to steal the show from the usual suspect – Usain Bolt, and maybe even a medal or two.