More Than Just a Stool
Even though the podium has some obvious symbolism—what with the first-place winner raised above the athletes they defeated, and all—there's a subtler meaning to it as well.
For many athletes, the podium represents the culmination of all of their goals and aspirations. When they dream of winning gold they aren't picturing their victory tour back home, or the commercial endorsements that might follow. They're envisioning that moment they take the podium, the medal is draped around their neck, and their national anthem is played while the entire world watches and admires their athletic achievements.
So the podium is more than just a three-tiered stage. It's the final but ultimate moment of victory; a time the winning athlete will look back on forever as one of their finest moments.