How much gold is in a gold medal?
The Olympic gold medal has long been the goal of many athletes. Dating back to ancient Greece, the Olympics have been a test of the strength and endurance of the top athletes of the world. What many people do not realise is the fact that coveted gold medal is more symbolic than valuable.
Since its inception as part of the Olympics in 1896, the Olympic gold medal has actually been comprised of more silver than gold. With only a 6 gram plating of gold over the sterling silver base, the gold medal's actual value is roughly £145 (GBP), a far cry less than what it's value would be based on the assumption of pure gold. This remains the case for a few reasons.
One reason the Olympic Committee has never seen fit to change the composition of the gold medal is to ward off souvenir hunters and those who would cheapen the experience of the Olympics by selling the medals.
The second reason is perhaps stated best by the creed that every Olympic participant joins in reciting. "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part. Just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." When Pierre de Coubertin, one of the authors of the original Olympic Charter, penned those words, he was making a clear statement that the value of the medal lies in the experience that an Olympic champion will remember for a lifetime and not the monetary value of the metal it contains.
Read more common gold questions.
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