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Design of the Olympic medals over the years

admin Sat, 08/11/2012 - 12:47

London 2012
Designer: David Watkins

The biggest Summer Olympics medals to date. Artist David Watkins says the key symbols on front and back juxtapose the goddess Nike, for the spirit and tradition of the Games, and the River Thames, for the city of London. On the back of the medals is the 2012 branding, representing the modern city as a jewel-like, geological growth. The logo is shown against a 'pick-up-sticks' grid which radiates the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together. The River Thames runs through the middle as a celebratory ribbon. The bowl-like background recalls ancient amphitheatres, with a square balancing the circle to give a sense of place. The sport and discipline is engraved on the rim of each medal, all of which will be produced by the Royal Mint at Llantrisant, South Wales.


Beijing 2008
Designer: Xiao Yong

The Greek goddess and stadium remain on the front. The coveted Chinese gemstone jade is inlaid into the back of each medal.


Athens 2004
Designer: Elena Votsi

The Greeks went Greek, with a new depiction of Nike, flying into the 1896 Panathenaic stadium to bestow victory on the strongest, highest and fastest. Classic Greek lettering spells out the Olympic ode under the Athens logo.


Sydney 2000
Designer: Wojciech Pietranik

The design stokes controversy, when critics point out the long-standing feature on the front of medals was not Greek, but a Roman coliseum. Australian coin designer Wojciech Pietranik put the Sydney Opera House and the Olympic torch on the reverse.


Atlanta 1996
Designer: Malcolm Grear Designers

Back to a conservative Nike design. On the back is the Atlanta emblem of an Olympic flame and stars and a graphical laurel branch to mark the modern Olympics centennial year.


Barcelona 1992
Designer: Xavier Corbero

Spain's most famous living sculptor Xavier Corbero spruces up the figure of Nike for modern times and puts Barcelona's logo on the back - a blue head, invoking the Mediterranean sea; yellow, sunshine, open arms and leaping, red legs.


Seoul 1988
Designer: Giuseppe Cassioli

Modernist again, with a dove carrying a laurel sprig and the Seoul Olympic logo - an ancient Korean Taegeuk symbol, like that on the national flag.


Los Angeles 1984
Designer: Giuseppe Cassioli

The medals return to Cassioli's design but were also worked on by American illustrator Dugald Stermer.


Moscow 1980
Designer: Giuseppe Cassioli/Ilya Postol

The idea of featuring the host city logo on the reverse continues, above a stylised representation of a stadium and Olympic flame and cauldron.


Montreal 1976
Designer: Giuseppe Cassioli

The trend for a sparse design on the reverse of the medal continues with a simple laurel crown and the host city's Olympic emblem.


Munich 1972
Designer: Gerhard Marcks

For the first time in 44 years, Munich's organisers break from tradition on the back of the medal. Gerhard Marcks from the German Bauhaus design school depicts Castor and Pollux - the mythological twin sons of Leda who had different fathers: Spartan king Tyndareus and Zeus.


Mexico 1968
Designer: Giuseppe Cassioli

Florentine sculptor and painter Giuseppe Cassioli won an IOC competition to design the medals and from 1928 to 1968, the basic design remains identical. The front shows victory goddess Nike, holding a winner's crown and a palm. The back: a winner carried by a crowd.


Paris 1924
Designer: Andre Rivaud

In the spirit of sportsmanship, the front features an athlete helping his rival to rise. The back has sports equipment and a harp - a nod to the Cultural Olympiad.


Paris 1900
Designer: Frederique Vernon

Gold, silver and bronze medals for the first time, and the only rectangular design amid the discs. Nike is on the front, a victorious athlete on the back.


Athens 1896
Designer: Jules Clement Chaplain

Winners at the first modern Olympics did not receive a gold medal but a silver one. Runners-up had copper. On the front Zeus, father of the Gods, holds Nike, the goddess of victory. The Acropolis is shown on the back.

Thanks to BBC and Flickr for the info.

Also check out the collection of Olympic logos from the past 100 years.

1 Comment

rajnbr2505's picture

Excellent piece of information.. all these years i have been wondering what is to do with these designs on these prestigious medals..