OLYMPIC MEDALSAmerican headdress made up of ski sticks, a bob, skis, skate blades, a stick, a luge and a rifle.Many other designs however, have been morematter-of-fact, such as the Sydney 2000 medals whichproudly portray the Sydney Opera House, or the Taegukpatterns from the Korean national flag which wererepeated on the medals at Seoul in 1988. Some haveexperimented with materials, starting with Albertville in 1992, where all the medals were created (andhandcrafted by 35 people) in glass by Lalique. AtLillehammer in 1994, designer Ingjerd Hanevold madethe bold move of opting for granite. "I tried to create something that reflects whatNorwegians like and appreciate, i.e. nature. There isplenty of granite in our country, and it is beautiful in its simplicity," she said. Most recently, in 2008, the Beijing medals becamethe first to incorporate jade, inspired by "bi", theancient jade piece inscribed with a dragon pattern, ?
54OLYMPIC REVIEWOLYMPIC MEDALSwhich, when combined with gold, symbolises nobility,virtue and the Chinese values of ethics and honour.The natural world has also featured (the orca andthe raven were used in the Olympic medal designsfor Vancouver 2010), as have man's technicalachievements (the obverse of the Paris 1900 medalincludes depictions of monuments from the UniversalExhibition). A few designs even hark to the realms ofmyth and legend, from dragon slaying (St George,patron saint of England, graced the reverse of theLondon 1908 medals) to the story of Silvius Brabowho killed the giant Druoon Antigoon and threw his hand in the river - which is how the city ofAntwerp got its name (Antwerp means "thrown hand"),and is conveyed by the Antwerp monument depictedon the reverse of the medals awarded in 1920. To design an Olympic medal is almost as great anhonour as to win one, and although not officially anarea of the sporting competitions, host cities haveproved as proud of their medal designs as any otherOlympic element. Some are more open about thisthan others: "We adopted advanced technologies andenhanced management during the production," LuoYounghui, a senior designer at the Shanghai Mint saidof the jade-backed medals designed for the 2008Games in Beijing, which, at 70mm by 6mm, were alsosomewhat larger than previous medals. Over the years there have been severalcompetitions to design medals - Australian sculptorBertram Mackennal's design was chosen for theLondon Olympic medal in 1908. Inevitably someinnovations have provoked mixed reactions, such asDario Quatrini's doughnut shape introduced at the2006 Games in Turin."They are different. They are very muchappreciated by some, but we are aware that othersdon't like them so much," said Organising Committeespokesman Giuseppe Gattino. "We wanted to give the athletes somethingdifferent, something new. They are more like Italianjewels. Athletes win medals all the time. We like theway the athletes look through the medals." And will there be something for champions tolook through in London in 2012? Remarkably littlehas been disclosed, other than that 4,700 medals areto be produced by the Royal Mint and a shortlist ofBritish artists who might design the medals is beingdrawn up. What will they look like? Perhaps weshould look to the new London 2012 commemorative50p coins for inspiration, which portray differentsports as designed by competition winners in Englandand Wales, ranging from a policeman to a nine-year-old school girl. The design for the coin commemoratingrowing, created by graphic designer Davey Podmorefrom Stamford, Lincolnshire includes the IOC'sOlympic values of excellence, friendship and respect,which could be the perfect source of inspiration. ?BelowBelgium'sTia Hellebautshows off the goldand jade medal she received afterwinning thewomen's highjump at the 2008Games in Beijing