It will be one of the enduring images of the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Elated athletes have been holding their medals to their ears, getting the truest sense of what glory sounds like.

As athletes, including Australia's Ellie Cole pictured above, have experienced, a simple shake of the medal delivers a subtle difference in sound for gold, silver and bronze medallists.

The medals have small steel balls inside them, and make different sounds for every colour.

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Gold makes the loudest sound because they have 28 balls inside them. Silver has 20 and bronze 16.

Paralympics have traditionally had braille on them but this is the first time the medals can be heard.