Olympic Medals are given as awards for finishing in the first three places in the events of the Olympic Games. The champion receives a gold medal, the runner-up a silver medal, and the third place finisher a bronze medal. At the 1896 Olympics, the winner received only a silver medal and the runner-up a bronze medal. In 1900 the awards to the top three finishers varied from event-to-event.
The medals must be at least 60 mm in diameter and three mm thick. They are designed by the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, upon approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board. The “gold” medal is actually silver gilt which must be gilded with at least six grams of pure gold. It was only in 1908 and 1912 that the gold medallists received medals of pure gold. The metal for the first and second place medals must be silver of at least 925/1000 grade.
Since 1932, Olympic Medals are given to the medallists at ceremonies at the conclusion of their events. The medals are draped around the athlete’s necks, hung from a ribbon or other decorative necklace. This custom did not begin, however, until 1960 in Rome. Prior to that time, the medals were handed to the athlete’s in specially designed boxes. Until 1932, medals were awarded as a part of the closing ceremony.