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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Victory tastes sweet ! ... what is the taste of Gold ??

Victory certainly would sound great, especially when it comes in a global event like Olympics.  .. .. it is the culmination of bitterly fought competition after years of rigorous training.  An   Olympic winner biting  into his  medal while posing for photos on the podium is a great sight and gets circulated multiple times as proud moment for that Nation.  As many as 86 countries had won at least one medal in the recently-concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics n a complete show of dominance, the U.S. won the most medals at the Olympics, raking in 113 total with 39 gold medals. USA  beat out China to claim the top spot by a single gold medal. China finished the games with an impressive 88 medals in total. The host country Japan came  third with 27 gold medals and a total of 58 medals.  This was also the best-ever Olympics for India, with seven medals, surpassing 2012 London Games' count of six.   Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza and Japanese skateboarder Kokona Hiraki were the youngest athletes in Tokyo at 12 years old, while Australian equestrian Mary Hanna was the oldest at 66 years old.


One of the typical iconic images  is that of Olympic winners standing on the podium, biting their newly-won neckwear.  When an Olympic champion bites on their medal, they aren't biting on solid gold. Modern Olympic medals are more like fool's gold (they're made of only one per cent gold) and Olympians would break their teeth if they actually tried the bite test.  The Gold medals are in fact not Gold but Silver medals -  pure silver with about six grams of gold plating. Silver medals are pure silver and bronze medals are actually red brass.   Olympic gold medals are required to be made from at least 92.5% silver, and must contain a minimum of 6 grams of gold.  All Olympic medals must be at least 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick.  Minting the medals is the responsibility of the Olympic host. From 1928 through 1968 the design was always the same: the obverse showed a generic design by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli of Greek goddess Nike with Rome's Colloseum in the background and text naming the host city; the reverse showed another generic design of Nike saluting an Olympic champion.

You don’t need someone to remind or tell that Medals are not edible !  - yet officially Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers  took to Twitter to remind athletes that the medals are 'not edible, and are actually made from recycled electronic devices donated by the Japanese public. 'So, you don't have to bite them... but we know you still will,' the cheeky tweet read.  "We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible," the Tokyo 2020 account tweeted. "Our [Olympic] medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public.  For the Tokyo games, the medals are made from recycled, small electronics. Nearly 79,000 tons were collected during the "Tokyo 2020 Medal Project," including more than 6.2 million tons of cell phones.  So, you don't have to bite them... but we know you still will."

The modern-day answer is one that may not seem all that interesting. Ever watch an awards show red carpet when the photographers are yelling at the well-dressed stars to look their way and smile, pose or whatever else? According to multiple accounts from Olympians, the same thing happens at the games. Photographers hound athletes to "bite" their medals. “It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN in 2012. “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”  There's also an older answer to the question. Money handlers more than a century ago would bite down on coins to ensure they weren't counterfeit. Real gold is softer than human teeth and, therefore, would be left with a mark if bitten, according to CNN.

With the Games taking place amid rising Covid rates in Japan, the friendly advice came as overjoyed athletes from many nations copied the old tradition of taking a bite. Britain's Adam Peaty and Tom Daley each took a pretend bite out of their gold medals, while Team USA stars and the entire Estonian fencing team all followed suit.  But maybe they wouldn't if they realised how many pairs of hands their medals have been through. The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project took two years of national effort to collect enough gadgets to produce around 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals that were  given out at the Olympics.  The recycling campaign produced a total of 32kg of gold, 3,492.7kg of silver and 2,199.9kg of bronze from nearly 80 tons of old mobile phones, laptops and other devices.

Interesting !  .. .. Olympic medal story. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Aug 2021. 

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