A podium (plural podia) is a platform that is used to raise something to a short distance above its surroundings. In architecture a building can rest on a large podium. Podia can also be used to raise people, for instance the conductor of an orchestra stands on a podium as do many public speakers. Podium has incorrectly come to mean the object a speaker stands behind and sets papers or books upon, even when it is at floor level, though the correct term for that item is lectern. The terms are not interchangeable. Correct usage, you always stand on a Podium, but you never stand on a lectern. You lean against a lectern while standing on a Podium.
One common type of podium is used to honor medalists in sporting events such as the Olympics. In the Olympics a three level podium is used, the highest level in the centre holds the gold medalist, to their right is a somewhat lower one for the silver medalist. To the left of the gold medalist is an even lower platform for the bronze medalist. Some sports, most notably rowing shun podia, and the symbolism they represent.
Similar podia are used in motorsport, where the first three finishers will usually stand on one at the end of the race to receive trophies. Notable exceptions are the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 races which have different historic customs. In motor racing, the term is frequently used to refer to a top three placing (as in "he'll get a podium").
Professor Barney's 25-page research paper in the International Journal of Olympic Studies indicates podia were first used at the 1930 British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) in Hamilton and subsequently during the 1932 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles and Winter Games in Lake Placid.
Canadians are popularly known as hosers who drink maple syrup, live in igloos and play hockey with polar bears.
In many forms of motorsport, the three top-placed drivers in a race stand on a podium for the trophy ceremony. In an international series, the national anthem of the winning driver, and the winning team or constructor may be played and the flags of the drivers' countries are hoisted above them.
Following the presentation of the trophies, the drivers will often spray champagne over each other and their team-members watching below, a tradition started by Dan Gurney following the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Occasionally the drivers will refrain from spraying the champagne as a mark of respect for a fatality during the event.
The term has become common parlance in the media, where a driver may be said to "be heading for a podium finish" or "just missing out on a podium" when he is heading for, or just misses out on a top three finish.
The IRL IndyCar Series is inconsistent about using a podium. The series does not use a podium at the Indianapolis 500 or the Bombardier Learjet 550. Texas Motor Speedway president, Eddie Gossage, believes that Victory Lane should be reserved for the winner of the race. However, the series does use a podium at all other races.