K2 Trophies and Awards

History of Colors of First, Second, and Third Place Awards at Olympics


Richmond, VA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/06/2012 -- Every four years the world is treated to the Olympic Games. During the Games, we not only follow the scores and the points of the events, but the stories of the athletes as well. We walk with them through their trials, their failures and, of course, their successes. Although the stories are always common, the individual details that we learn about these amazing athletes make their achievements that much more exciting as we watch them take their journey towards the gold, silver, and bronze.

However, a story we don’t hear that often is the story of the medals themselves. How were they first imagined? Where were they first introduced and what is so significant about gold, silver and bronze? After much research, K2 Trophies and Awards has these answers and more.

Before the Olympics

Before the Olympics, there was the military. Although various military traditions evolved around the world, a common theme was to award medals to individuals and military units for recognition of a victory as well as overcoming significant challenges in the line of duty. In fact, these medals were often constructed with the individual or military group in mind after the act of bravery or military victory. Many times these medals were made out of gold, cherished because of its value and rarity, a symbol of the qualities exhibited by the recipient.

The military tradition of awarding medals in recognition of a victory or an act of valor carried over into the Olympic Games where gold signified first place, silver signified second place and bronze denoted a third place finish. These colors were chosen not by accident or because of the metals worth, but rather because of the Ages of Man (taken from Greek mythology) that these precious metals represented.

The Golden Age

Ancient Greek mythology held that during the Golden Age, men lived among the gods. The world was embraced in a harmonious utopia where everyone lived and died peacefully and all men were virtuous and good. Those who come in first place in the Olympics are associated with this Golden Age because they represent the best mankind is capable of in the event that they won.

The Silver Age

During the Silver Age, men were no longer with the gods. Instead, they were created by Zeus out of ash trees and cast down to Earth. Although they lived a long time (everyone lived for exactly 100 years) they spent the sum of their days under the control of their mothers. As grown adults they lived in constant argument with one another. As a result many men grew weary with Zeus and refused to worship him or the other gods. Because it came immediately after the end of the Golden Age, silver came to represent second place in the Olympics, because the Silver Age was second to the Golden Age.

The Bronze Age

Separated from the gods by yet another age, the Bronze Age represented the time when men had grown hard with work and toil. The gofds no longer coddled them, and they became brash fighters, constructing everything, even their homes, from bronze. The Bronze Age represented an era of extreme hardship and endurance. However, its symbolism in the Olympics is, like the Silver Age, simply the result of it coming immediately after the Silver Age. Since, chronologically, Greek mythology holds that the Golden Age came first, the Silver Age second, and the Bronze Age third, the Olympic medals came to be constructed out of gold for first place, silver for second place, and bronze for third place, primarily as an allusion to the procession of the three ages.

Regardless of what age a medal comes from, it absolutely comes with a distinction of greatness. To compete in the Olympics and receive a medal of any color is no simple task and the recognition that comes with the achievement is well deserved. K2 Trophies and Awards honors all athletes, Olympic or otherwise, for the determination of spirit it takes to compete in sports and bring home a medal. Visit K2Awards.com for more information.