Just in time for Tokyo games, Olympic items up for auction

Olympic medals dating to 1896, relay torches from several eras, and other Olympic memorabilia are among the items being auctioned by Boston’s RR Auction, just days before the start of the Tokyo games

One of those exceedingly rare first-place silver medals is for sale in an Olympics-themed auction that opens Thursday.

“Interest is high now with the Tokyo Olympics approaching,” RR Auction Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said.

The 1896 silver medal is expected to sell for about $75,000 given its rarity, Livingston said. Unlike today’s behemoth games with thousands of athletes and hundreds of events, the 1896 Olympiad featured about 250 athletes — all men — from a little more than a dozen nations competing in 10 sports.

A bronze medal from the same year is expected to fetch around $40,000.

Unfortunately, who won the medals has been lost to time, Livingston said.

Before the U.S.’s Dream Team of NBA stars dominated the 1992 men’s basketball tournament, there was the almost as dominant 1984 team that featured future NBA stars Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing.

That gold-medal winning team led by former Indiana coach Bobby Knight rolled to an 8-0 record, averaged more than 95 points per game and held their foes to an average of about 63 points per game.

One of those gold medals, with the multi-colored ribbon, is expected to sell for about $70,000, RR Auction said.

“Anything from the U.S. basketball team — and the 1980 men’s hockey team — always demands a lot of interest,” Livingston said.

The medal was consigned to the auctioneer by a collector who bought it directly from a member of the team, but exactly who that player is remains confidential, Livingston said.

Some of the other items for sale include a gold medal awarded to Swedish wrestler Ivar Johansson in the 1932 summer games in Los Angeles and a silver won by Bill “Rabbit” Thomson as a member of the Canadian hockey team in the 1936 winter games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany.

The torches for sale include those from the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway; the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid; and the 1976 winter games in Innsbruck, Austria.

One of the more unusual items is a 17-foot (5.2-meter) wooden kayak used by Rolf Peterson of Sweden to win a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo games. It will set you back about $30,000.

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