Why do Olympians bite their medals? Reason athletes pose with Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals in Tokyo

The iconic pose has been used by athletes like Thomas Pidcock, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles

Winning an Olympic medal is the ultimate goal for the athletes competing at the games - and a common pose after doing so is that of the winners biting their medals.

You’ve likely seen pictures of elite athletes like Thomas Pidcock, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles pretending to take a bite out of their medals.

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But why has the act of biting a medal become so commonplace amongst Olympic athletes? This is what you need to know.

Posing with their medal between their teeth is an iconic one used by many athletes (Photo: Alex Livesey/Patrick Smith/Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Why do Olympic athletes bite their medals?

This is actually a question that the official Olympics website set out to answer.

It explains: “History says that, during the early days, traders bit their gold coins to check its authenticity when the precious metal was used as a form of currency.

“Gold is a soft metal which dents under slight stress and leaves a mark when gnawed.”

However, it’s pretty safe to say that Olympic athletes aren’t really checking the authenticity of their medals when posing for photos after their win.

Additionally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) actually stopped awarding pure gold medals in 1912.

So what’s the real reason? It’s because photographers ask them to do it.

Speaking to CNN, David Wallechinsky, President of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said: “It’s become an obsession with the photographers.

“I think they look at it as an ionic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”

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What are Olympic medals made of?

The Olympic medals are one of the most iconic parts of the games, with athletes from over 200 countries competing to claim one of their own.

Medals have been issued at every event at the Olympics since the St Louis Olympics in 1904.

Until 1912, the gold medals were made of solid gold, however that is no longer the case.

Now Olympic gold medals are made largely from silver - at least 92.5 per cent, according to the IOC, with six grams of gold.

The silver medal is also made from 92.5 per cent silver, and the bronze medal is made with 92.5 per cent copper, 0.5 per cent tin and 2.5 per cent zinc.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic medals are particularly unique, as they are a product of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, which saw the collection of small electronic devices such as used mobile phones from all over Japan to produce the Olympic and Paralymic medals.

In the two years between April 2017 and March 2019, 100 per cent of the metals required to make the, approximately, 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals were extracted from these small electronic devices.

The Olympics site says: “Every single medal to be awarded to athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Games is made from recycled metals.

“We are grateful for everyone’s cooperation on this project. We hope that our project of recycling small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society will form part of the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”