Monday, August 8, 2016

The Worth of a RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL

On August 5, the greatest international multi-sport athletic event will take place in Rio de Janeiro as it opens the (Summer) Games of the Thirty-First Modern Olympiad, or Rio 2016 for short. The date is pretty much around the corner now, and athletes from all over the world are either finishing up their training at their home countries before catching a flight to Brazil, or are already crowding into the Athletes’ Village and using the in-house facilities there to maintain their conditioning as the clock counts down to the big day.

These men and women hone their bodies and skills to something as close to perfection as they could possibly manage, all in order to overcome one another in spirited competition for the chance to stand on the podium and receive the ultimate token of their athletic excellence: an Olympic medal, most especially if it were a gold medal.

For Rio 2016, CNN reports that the Brazilian National Mint has labored hard and with good haste to create the nearly 2,500 medals total to be used in the Summer Olympics. (A further over 2,600 medals have also been produced for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the same Olympic venue this coming September). Of the roughly 2,500 Olympic medals, 812 of them are Gold. Then again, as many would suspect by now, those gold medals are not really solid gold but merely gilded by it. So it pretty much shatters the old myth about impoverished Olympians past their prime trying to pawn their medals off for loads of cash; they won’t really get as much as they think.

The Olympics last presented solid gold medals at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, Sweden (and even then, these were a cost-cutting measure from the original trophy awards since the first modern Olympics in Athens 1896). Nevertheless, Olympic organizers quickly realized that solid gold medals were still incredibly pricy to make every 4 years (or 2 since 1992). Regulations since 1912 have it that a “gold” Olympic medal need only at least 6 grams of gold to be gilded over a medal made out of mostly silver. This means Olympic first placers are actually getting silver medals with gold plating. Imagine that.

Gold medals for the Rio Olympics are composed mainly of 494 grams of silver covered in 6 grams of gold. Brazilian sculptor Nelson Neto Carneiro crafted the mold used for the 2016 medals, which feature the Rio games logo surrounded by laurel leaves on one side, and a figure of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, in the other. Of the gold medals, which are said to cost only $587 at current gold prices, Carneiro proudly declares, “Seeing them on the podium, I'll know I made that medal. I'll feel like I'm getting a medal myself."

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