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Innovative Olympic And Paralympic Medals Unveiled For Rio 2016 Games

By Craig Bohnert | June 14, 2016, 5:27 p.m. (ET)

(L-R) The silver, gold and bronze medals for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were revealed June 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. 

The gold, silver and bronze medals that will be presented at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games were unveiled Tuesday at a special ceremony at the Future Arena in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, took part in the celebration.

The Brazilian Mint created 2,488 medals – 812 golds, 812 silvers and 864 bronzes.

Produced with environmental sustainability at their core, the Olympic versions are designed to celebrate the relationship between Olympic heroes and forces of nature, while the Paralympic ones symbolize the courage, persistence and development of athletes.

The gold used to manufacture the winners’ awards is completely mercury-free and produced under exacting sustainability criteria throughout the process, from mine to finished product. The silver and bronze medals are comprised of 30-percent recycled materials, while the ribbons used to hang the medals have a composition of 50-percent recycled plastic bottles. The freijo wood used to craft the rounded presentation cases for the medals is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

(L-R) The silver, gold and bronze medals for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 

The medals for the Olympic Games combine traditional elements with more modern aspects. The obverse features the Rio 2016 logo framed by a stylized laurel wreath, evoking the wreathes that were used to crown winners at the ancient Olympic Games. The reverse displays images that tie to both the ancient Olympic Games and the birth of the modern Games. At the forefront is a depiction of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, an ancient statue honoring Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. The background includes an image of Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympic Games, with the Acropolis and Parthenon rising in the distance. The rim of the medal carries an inscription of the event for which it is presented.

The Paralympic Games medals have a cleaner, more modern design, highlighted by a trail of seeds that wraps from the obverse to the reverse side. The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games logo is present on both sides of the medal, with Braille inscriptions included. A special innovation for the Paralympic medals is a tiny device tucked inside them that, when shaken, makes a unique noise, depending on whether the medal is gold, silver or bronze. This feature allows visually impaired athletes to identify the medal’s hue.

The award podiums also were unveiled Tuesday. Made from organic materials that celebrate Brazil’s tropical nature, they have been designed to be recycled as furniture at the conclusion of the Games.