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Here’s why athletes bite their medals

It is a routine with all world beaters at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games that in a way has become a kind of rite of passage for all medal winners.

Pictures of athletes biting on their prized medals have become synonymous with the Olympics -and another games for that matter.

But just why do athletes bite on their medals? Why not take a picture with a normal pose of the medal just hanging from the neck, or the winner holding out the medal?


Different theories have been put forward to try and explain the phenomena but, according to CNN, even if you would rather not risk leaving a bite mark on your medal, chances are good you will be asked to anyway.

Olympic photographers are the ones who usually request their subjects for at least one “biting the medal” shot.

During the Gold rush period, people used to test for counterfeit gold coins by taking a bite out of them. Gold is a relatively soft metal, so biting a coin and leaving a slight indent was a sign that a coin was actually made of solid gold.

But the trend is not only for Gold winners but also the silver and bronze winners.

The irony though, according to TIME, is that Olympic gold medals aren’t actually made of gold – or at least, not entirely anyway.

They are actually more like upgraded sterling silver medals, with about 6 grams of 24-karat gold used as a coating to make it look gold.


In fact, according to NBC News, only about 7.5 per cent of the medal itself is gold. However, the medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games are the heaviest medals in the history of the summer Olympics at 500 grams each, according to Forbes.

So, it’s just for the excitement or maybe because it makes a cool picture, or may be the athletes take a bite of their medals since they can’t believe they are their –more like ‘is this real’ moment.