From Laurel Wreaths to a Silver Trophy: A History of Sporting Awards and Their Prizes

From playing a family game of rounders on the beach to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, there are many different levels and types of sport, each celebrated for their ability to unite people from all over the world. No matter where you’re from, what level you compete at or what type of sport you favour, there’s nothing like a game of cricket or a football match to bring excitement to a crowd, and to put a smile on every spectator’s face.

However, it isn’t just the support and the loyalty of the spectators that drives people to compete in low and high-level tournaments. Since the beginning of sport’s long and fascinating history, awards and trophies have been the sought after prize of all competitors, giving the winning team a tangible sense of pride and a reason to celebrate. Trophies and prizes are so important that, today, you can expect to win prizes at all sporting levels, right down to primary school children participating in their first ever sports day.

The history of sport is a brilliant one. Sporting events have unified people from all over the world – even during periods of serious social and political upheaval – with some competitions becoming so prestigious that simply attending them would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sport is often recognised as a non-aggressive way of settling differences, which is just one of the reasons why it remains so popular across the world today. There is no country in the world that doesn’t participate in sport at some level, which is a testament to its ability to unite.

With this in mind, we at Silvertrophy are interested in the way that sporting awards and their prizes have developed throughout history. Sport is a powerful thing, with its awards symbolising much more than victory. Here are just some of the most globally recognised and celebrated competitions and what the winners can expect to take home:

The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are arguably the most famous and widely celebrated sporting event in the world, with over 200 nations competing in a varied range of sports every four years. From surfing to boxing, gymnastics to badminton, it seems as if every sport in the world has its place in the Olympic Games, with some belonging to the Summer Games and some part of the Winter Games. In 1960, the Paralympics was born, giving athletes with disabilities the opportunity to compete at an international level – an event that, to this day, occurs every two years alongside the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Today, the Olympic Games is celebrated across the globe and is a hugely well-known event, with countries all over the world competing to host the games and boost their place in sports tourism. However, it’s fair to say that the Games actually came from humble beginnings. The compelling history of the Olympics began in Olympia, Greece, in the 8th century BC, and saw events such as athletics, wrestling and chariot racing celebrated by people throughout Ancient Greece.

While the Olympic Games have a captivating history themselves, it’s the progression of the Olympic prizes that we’re interested in. Loyal to Greek tradition, the very first winning athletes were awarded a wreath of laurel leaves which could be worn around the head or neck to symbolise victory and was designed to honour Zeus. When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, the traditional wreath gave way to medals, which eventually took the order of bronze, silver and gold, with gold being the most prestigious. This award system is still the same today, with all athletes also receiving a medal for participation.

The World Cup

No discussion of sporting events would be quite complete without mention of the FIFA World Cup, the world’s largest and most famous international football competition. While there is a separate FIFA Women’s World Cup, the World Cup itself is a celebration of the top male players. Football itself has a long and interesting history, from early beginnings in China through to the rise in popularity in England’s top private schools. Allegedly, it is here that football grew into the organised sport that it’s recognised as today.

The first World Cup was held in 1930 and since then there have been a total of 21 tournaments, with two being missed in 1942 and 1946 as a result of World War II. The tournament is often celebrated for unifying international teams and bringing tourism to the game’s host countries, however, like all large-scale sporting events, the World Cup has been embroiled in its fair share of controversy. Despite this, the future of the World Cup is positive, with Qatar set to host the 2022 finals.

As the World Cup has a much shorter history than the Olympic Games, the prize awarded to the winning team hasn’t undergone such a vast transition. The winning team have always received a trophy, however, the design and process have changed quite significantly. Until 1970, the victors were awarded a trophy named after Jules Rimet, the president of FIFA who was accredited with the birth of the first World Cup tournament.

Following this, the trophy was redesigned and renamed the FIFA World Cup Trophy in 1970. This is the iconic gold trophy we now know as the symbol of the tournament, and which depicts two people holding the world high above their heads. This beautiful trophy truly is a work of art and has since become a world recognised symbol of football. However, due to mishaps in the past, such as the winning trophy once being stolen, the winning country is not entitled to keep the cup once the games’ celebrations are finished. Instead, they are given a replica to keep and treasure.

The Wimbledon Championships

There are few international sporting events that are hosted in one place every time, but the Wimbledon Championships are certainly the exception to the rule. Wimbledon, one of the world’s largest and most famous tennis events, began in 1876 and has been hosted in Wimbledon, London ever since. There are five main events that happen during the Championships, including singles games for both sexes, doubles games for both sexes, and a set of mixed doubles. Wimbledon is one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events and is certainly one of the most famous held in England.

There are many things symbolic of Wimbledon, but perhaps the most widely recognised is the enjoyment of strawberries and cream. Strawberries and cream are widely enjoyed throughout the tournament and have since become a traditional symbol for tennis games across the world. Wimbledon is also the only large tennis competition to be played on grass as opposed to hardcourt in a bid to stay true to tradition. Due to the prestige associated with Wimbledon, many previous winners are now household names, including Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Interestingly, the winners of Wimbledon receive different trophies depending on their gender. While the winner of the Gentlemen’s Singles games receives a silver cup, the champion of the Ladies’ Singles wins a silver disk known as the Venus Rosewater Dish. Different again is the award for the winners of the Doubles games. The champions for the Doubles games win a silver trophy, regardless of gender, and each receives their own cup as opposed to sharing between players. Winners also receive prize money, the value of which has increased significantly over the years. In fact, the champions of the Singles tournaments can now expect to win upwards of £2 million!

Silvertrophy: High-end silver claret jugs, crystal glass awards and trophy plaques for sporting competitions, business events and wedding gifts

At Silvertrophy, we’re fascinated by all things trophy. We’re proud to sell a huge variety of different awards and prizes suitable for all occasions and are guaranteed to have the perfect award for your needs. Whether you’re looking for engraved plaques to commemorate an important achievement or crystal glasses to celebrate a wedding, look no further for high-quality designs that will leave the recipient with an unbeatable sense of pride.

With super fast delivery and highly competitive prices, there’s no better supplier for all your trophy needs. Browse our range of corporate, school and sporting awards online today or get in touch with the Silvertrophy team for more information about our products and services.

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