Following a flurry of angry calls and emails from parents of Olympic athletes, the International Olympic Committee has discontinued the 118-year tradition of only awarding the top three competitors of each event with gold, silver, and bronze medals. As of Friday, all London 2012 Olympians will automatically be given a gold medal just for participating and trying their best.
“We really wanted to foster an environment of self-esteem and social development, in which all Olympic athletes are valued equally and nobody’s feelings get hurt,” said local activist mom Heidi Linderman-Strader, whose 26-year-old son went home crying in 2008 after placing 17th in last year’s men’s high jump event.
Linderman-Strader is the founder of the Coalition for Olympian Moms, a group aiming to remove the focus of the Olympics on winning, and instead place a greater emphasis on inspiring confidence, making new friends, and having fun.
“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with the mothers of world-class Olympic athletes in this new initiative,” said International Olympic Committee president Francois Bernadene. “It’s important for our Olympians to understand that they’re all special and everyone is a winner, no matter how fast they can sprint or how good they are at badminton.”
The new rule is especially significant for some lesser-known countries like Burkina Faso, Liechtenstein, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, who this year will all be awarded with their first gold medals in their entire history of competing in the Olympic games.
Earlier this morning, Sudanese discus thrower Amsalu Nijam was particularly elated. “I’ve been training my whole life for this moment, and it’s a relief to know the outcome before it even happens. I can’t wait to get my gold medal – thanks mom!”
When asked how far he threw his last discus, he said he wasn’t sure because competitors are no longer allowed to keep score.