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Canadian woman learns heirloom “coin” actually medal from first modern Olympics


Credit: Sara Fitzgerald, National Post

The bronze coin had always been called just that - a coin - in the family of Nova Scotia resident Vicky Fitzgerald. But as it’s turned out, that little “coin” is something else entirely.

The coin, which has become an heirloom in her family, is actually a participant’s medal from the very first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

While the medal bears “1906" and was used for that year’s Intercalated Games, it actually was a leftover medal from the 1896 Olympics.

A bit of background: The Intercalated Games were meant to be a series of half-way, intermediate events in between the internationally organized Olympic Games. They were meant to always be held in Athens and to have equal status as the Olympics.

However, that 1906 edition proved to be the only one in the Intercalated series and it has never been recognized as a proper Olympics by the IOC. But their impact is without question.

Multiple elements that we see in today’s Olympics were first utilized in the Intercalated Games: The Opening Ceremony and its Parade of Nations, the Olympic Village, the Closing Ceremony, and perhaps most important of all, a more condensed schedule of events.

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As for what Mrs. Fitzgerald plans to do with the medal, that’s yet to be determined by herself and her family.

Her daughter, Sara, told Canada’s National Post that she believes her mother is leaning toward donating the item to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s archives.

However, considering the item is also an heirloom, it’ll likely be a tough decision.

“It was never my intention to be rid of the medal or to sell it or to give it away to anybody,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said to the National Post.

On the other hand, the medal’s documentation could help in making those Intercalated Games an official part of the Olympic timeline.

As reported in the Post article, USOC archivist Terese Hedgpeth told Canadian television that their omission from said timeline was “an oversight that needs to be corrected” and that the medal’s donation would be “one step in that direction.”

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