Gold, silver and bronze medals were first given to Olympic winners in St. Louis, USA, in 1904. But why these particular metals? Did the idea come from the USA? Does the inspiration stretch right back to antiquity? Or is the tradition more recent, from royal and state medals?
Gudmund Skjeldal took second place in the 50 km ski race at Holmenkollen in 1993, after being in the lead up to the last kilometre. The story of this race forms the framework for his personal explorations of the history of gold, silver and bronze.
A bronze medallist is often happy at having only just missed the silver. It's worse to be a silver medallist, who could so nearly have been the Olympic champion. Like Juha Mieto at the Olympic Games at Lake Placid in 1980, one hundredth of a second behind the gold medallist in the cross-country ski race. Gold is both a crowning achievement and a curse. The gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10.0 at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. She won three gold medals at the age of fourteen. After perfection, what next?
Gudmund Skjeldal is a critically acclaimed author who writes about the history of ideas. As a former member of the national ski team, he is the ideal person to write this book.
'It’s a thrilling run and a pure pleasure to read.'
'… draws us into the story to share the sense of defeat.’
’Gudmund Skjeldal succeeds in combining entertaining stories about athletics with a moral message for our time … Skjeldal’s gentle, intelligent prose is observant, thoughtful and vivid social critique at its best.’
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