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Why Do Olympians Bite Down On Their Medals?

15/08/2016 9:06 PM IST | Updated 15/08/2016 9:29 PM IST
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You've seen the photo a dozen times: proud Olympians biting down on their medals and smiling with their eyes.

No, they aren't checking to see if someone switched their medals with chocolate medallions covered in shiny foil. The real reason this photo exists is because photographers flat out ask for it.

"It's become an obsession with the photographers," David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians tells CNN. "I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don't think it's something the athletes would probably do on their own."

kissing olympic medal canada

Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion celebrate during the podium ceremony of the Women's Synchronised 10m Platform Final after the diving event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016.

Of course, biting down on gold is a historical tradition used to authenticate precious metals. Since solid gold is a softer metal, biting down on it would leave tooth impressions.

But don't worry, the athletes aren't marking up their medals for a photo op since there really isn't that much gold in a gold medal anyway. While the amount of gold in a medal changes every Olympic Games, this year's medals contain a mere 1.34 per cent of gold. The gold medal contains mostly silver.

And that might explain why the medals are so hard. In 2010, David Moeller, a luger on the German Olympic team, broke his tooth while chomping on his silver medal.

So maybe Olympians should opt for kissing or simply posing with their medals instead.

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