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A silver medal in sports and other similar areas involving competition is a medal made of, or plated with, silver awarded to the second-place finisher, or runner-up, of contests or competitions such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, etc. The outright winner receives a gold medal and the third place a bronze medal. More generally, silver is traditionally a metal sometimes used for all types of high-quality medals, including artistic ones.
In 1896, winners' medals were in fact silver. The custom of gold-silver-bronze for the first three places dates from the 1904 games and has been copied for many other sporting events. Minting the medals is the responsibility of the host city. From 1928–1968 the design was always the same: the obverse showed a generic design by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli with text giving the host city; the reverse showed another generic design of an Olympic champion. From 1972–2000, Cassioli's design (or a slight reworking) remained on the obverse with a custom design by the host city on the reverse. Noting that Cassioli's design showed a Roman amphitheatre for what was originally a Greek games, a new obverse design was commissioned for the Athens 2004 Games. Winter Olympics medals have been of more varied design.