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When Olympic winners take their places on the podium, the value of the metal in gold medals might not be the first thing on their mind. But changing commodity prices, forex rates and interest rates have all resulted in a medal won at one Olympics being worth a vastly different amount four years down the line.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stipulates that a gold medal must contain six grams of gold plating around a silver base. The amount of silver in a medal can fluctuate, so for our purposes we can look simply at the value of the six grams of gold in each medal.
When Denise Lewis collected her gold medal in the women’s heptathlon in Sydney 2000, she was receiving $52.8, or £36 (at 2000 exchange rates), worth of gold. Jessica Ennis-Hill’s gold at London 2012 in the same event, meanwhile, was worth $312.8, or £199.6 (2012 exchange rates). Even taking inflation into account, the gold in Mrs Ennis-Hill’s medal was worth 389% more in sterling than the gold in Ms Lewis’.