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Thursday, August 25, 2016


South Africa managed to bag a record-equalling 10 medals at the Rio Olympics including two golds. But what are those medals actually worth if one of the winners wanted to sell them?

At face value, a 2016 gold medal is priced at around R7000 because it is only gold plated. Up until 1912 the medals were made of solid gold which, if that still applied, would give them a value of over R280,000.

But genuine Olympic medals have huge value among collectors who snap them up at special auctions or from online trading sites.

The record price for an Olympic gold medal is believed to be $1.47 million (R19m) paid in 20013 by an American billionaire for one of the four that Jesse Owens won at the 1936 games. $310,000 (R4m) was paid for a 1980 Winter Olympics gold medal won by a member of the US ice hockey team which performed the famous ‘Miracle on Ice’ by beating the Soviet Union.

Medals without a special backstory have lower value but still can fetch between R60,000 for a bronze and up to R130,000 for a gold.

Many of the medals are sold because the winners need the money, often for medical treatment, but several have been sold online for charity.

American Anthony Ervin, who won the 50m freestyle swim at Rio, put his gold medal from the same event in Sydney in 2000 on eBay, the parent site of Gumtree SA, and donated $17,101 (R232,000) to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Otylia Jedrzejczak, the 2004 200m butterfly champion from Poland, sold her medal for more than R1m to raise money for children with leukaemia.

Urkanian Wladimir Klitschko won boxing gold in the 1996 Atlanta games and auctioned the medal for $1m (R13m) to support his foundation for children’s sports camps and facilities.

Head of Marketing for Gumtree SA Claire Cobbledick says the site doesn’t have any Olympic medals posted for sale yet but, with 86 medals won by South Africans in Olympic history (including 25 golds), she believes there must be many people holding items of immense potential value. 

At the moment there is a bronze medal from the 1950 British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) available for purchase on Gumtree at R10,000 This is a rare medal as only 8 of them were won by South Africans at those games held in Auckland. 

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