London releases design for heavy 2012 Olympic medals

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

The medal design for the 2012 London Olympics was released on Wednesday at a ceremony celebrating one year to go before next summer's Opening Ceremony.

Weighing in at around 14 ounces, the medals are thought to be among the heaviest in Olympic history.

British designer David Watkins designed the back of the medal, which incorporated the bulky logo for London 2012 as well as a number of metaphorical features that nobody will remember 365 days from now.

Among them:

• Intersecting lines meant to convey togetherness and outreach through looking like the background to your fourth-grade school portrait.

• The River Thames fluttering behind the logo; suggesting a "fluttering barqoue ribbon, adding a sense of celebration." This is where Olympic medal design explanations always get me. Why does there need to be additional symbolism behind the Thames? Isn't the fact that it's London's major waterway enough? Giving a reason for its inclusion is like yammering some nonsense about how "London" is written on the front because its six letters represent the six continents participating in the Games.

• The square "is the final balancing motif of the design, opposing the overall circularity of the design, emphasising its focus on the centre and reinforcing the sense of 'place' as in a map inset." Translation: "The medal looked uglier without it."

Symbolism nonsense aside, it's a fine medal. London officials didn't do Watkins any favors with the jagged logo they created three years ago, but he wisely kept the 2012 small and minimized its impact by surrounding it with distractions.

Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, is pictured on the front of the medal emerging from the Parthenon, as is customary at the Summer Olympics. Adhering to that tradition prevents medal-design disasters like Vancouver.

Approximately 2,100 medals will be awarded in London.

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