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A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

  • Category: Pics  |
  • 17 Aug, 2016  |
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Olympic medals have changed quite a bit over the years and many unique and interesting designs have been created over the years. Now it's time to take a look back and see just how much the medals have changed throughout history.

ATHENS 1896: Winners at the first Olympics of the modern era received a silver medal. The front of the medal depicts the Greek god Zeus' face, and he's holding a globe with the goddess of victory Nike on it.

1 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The back depicts the Acropolis, an iconic Athenian ruin.


2 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

PARIS 1900: The medals at the second modern games are the only ones that are rectangular instead of round. The front shows a winged goddess flying over the city of Paris.


3 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse of the medal shows a victorious athlete, with the Acropolis faintly visible in the background beyond the stadium.


4 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

ST. LOUIS 1904: The obverse shows a triumphant athlete in front of a bas relief illustrating the classic sports from Antiquity.


5 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse shows the goddess Nike (a very common figure on these medals) standing atop a globe. There's a blank space where the event and place were meant to be filled in.



6 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

LONDON 1908: Two women place a laurel crown on the head of a victor.


7 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The back depicts St. George, patron saint of England who slew a dragon, according to legend.


8 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

STOCKHOLM 1912: The front of the 1912 medals is the same design as the previous Olympics'.


9 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

STOCKHOLM 1912: The front of the 1912 medals is the same design as the previous Olympics'.


10 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

ANTWERP 1920: The obverse shows a nude athlete holding the spoils of victory in front of a Greek motif.


11 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse depicts the Antwerp monument, which tells the city's founding myth. The Roman soldier Silvius Brabo is depicted throwing the severed hand of the evil giant Druoon Antigoon into the river after slaying him.


12 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

PARIS 1924: The front shows a victorious athlete extending a hand to help his rival up from the ground in a show of good sportsmanship.


13 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The back depicts​ an arch made out of various pieces of sports equipment as well as a harp, which signifies the cultural portion of the games.


14 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

AMSTERDAM 1928: The design, which depicts the goddess of victory Nike holding a winner's laurel crown and a palm was created by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli following an international competition from the Olympic​ committee in 1921. The design would be used on the obverse of many medals to come.


15 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse shows a champion being carried out of the Olympic stadium by a crowd.


16 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

LOS ANGELES 1932: The 1932 Olympics used the same medal design as the previous games.


17 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse of the medal was also the same.


18 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

BERLIN 1936: There was a lengthy period of time where the Olympics used the same medal design for every games.


19 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

Front and back.


20 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

LONDON 1948: When the Olympics were held again after two games were canceled due to World War II, they once again used the same design.


21 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse was the same too. But, hey, a return to normalcy​ ain't all bad.


22 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

HELSINKI 1952: Nike again.


23 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

And a champ being carried by a crowd on the back again.


24 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

MELBOURNE 1956: The same design again. We promise they start switching them up again soon.


25 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

There's that victorious athlete and his fans again.


26 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

STOCKHOLM 1956: The 1956 Olympics were actually held in two places, as the equestrian events couldn't be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations. The equestrian athletes got a different medal, which had a horse on it.


27 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

ROME 1960: The medals at the Rome Games used the same design as the past Olympics, except the obverse and reverse were switched, so the champion athlete was on the front of the medal. They also had a bronze laurel wreath surrounding the medal and a similar chain.


28 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The goddess Nike was on the reverse of the 1960 medals, rather than the obverse.


29 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

TOKYO 1964: Things went back to normal for the 1964 Olympics in Japan.


30 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The triumphant athlete was back on the reverse of the medal again.


31 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

MEXICO CITY 1968: They start getting interesting again after this Olympics.


32 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

Here's the champion on the reverse one more time.


33 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

MUNICH 1972: The front of the medal at the Munich Olympics was the same as it had been for the last several decades.


34 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

But the back was different. It depicted Zeus' twin sons, Castor and Pollux, the patrons of sports competitions and friendship.


35 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

MONTREAL 1976: The obverse remains the same.


36 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse depicts a simple laurel crown as well as the emblem for the Olympics that year.


37 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

MOSCOW 1980: The classic design from 1928 makes another appearance.


38 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The back depicts a stylized Olympic bowl with a burning flame along with the host city's emblem.


39 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

LOS ANGELES 1984: The '84 Games used the Cassioli design on the obverse once again.


40 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

They also went back to depicting a champion athlete on the reverse, though the design was updated slightly by American illustrator Dugald Stermer.


41 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

SEOUL 1988: Nike appears once again on the obverse.


42 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

A dove, the international symbol of peace, graces the back of the medal.


43 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

BARCELONA 1992: The front depicts Nike holding her traditional items, but the design is new.


44 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse shows the emblem of the '92 Games, a figure of victory drawn in a Modernist style.


45 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

ATLANTA 1996: The Atlanta Games opted for a more traditional version of Nike.


46 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse depicts the emblem of the game — the Olympic flame — and a "Quilt of Leaves" design. The medals given to athletes included the pictogram​ of their sport positioned in the middle of the quilt.


47 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

SYDNEY 2000: The first Olympics of the new millennium once again used a riff on the classic 1928 design, though there's an additional border around the image. There was a major controversy​ surrounding these medals, as Greeks were outraged that the stadium in the background was Roman, not Greek. Why it took until 2000 to notice this is a puzzler.


48 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse depicts the Olympic Rings, the torch, and the iconic Sydney Opera House.


49 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

ATHENS 2004: The return of the Olympics to Greece saw a major design overhaul for the first time — especially in the wake of the previous Olympics' Roman stadium controversy​. The new design depicts Nike flying into the Panathenaic stadium that was used for the 1896 Games.


50 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The back is inscribed with Pindar's Eighth Olympic Ode, originally composed in 460 B.C. to honor Alkimedon of Aegina wrestling victory.


51 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

BEIJING 2008: The new Nike design once again appears on the obverse of the medal.


52 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The backs, however, are inscribed with the games' emblem and a ring of jade, an important and common gem in Chinese culture.


53 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

LONDON 2012: The new winged Nike graces the front again.


54 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

The reverse shows the emblem of the 2012 games and an abstract design meant to evoke a modern city. The curve behind the emblem represents the Thames River.


55 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)

RIO 2016: The design for the current Summer Olympics once again features Nike on the obverse, and the reverse depicts the emblem of the games along with a subtle, stylized​ laurel wreathe.


56 A Look Back At How Olympic Gold Medal Designs Have Changed Over The Years (56 pics)


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