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Sochi unveils uniquely Russian Olympic medals

Organizers incorporate distinct qualities of host country into awards

The ultimate prize: the gold medal for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The ultimate prize: the gold medal for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(05/30/2013) - The president of the Sochi organizing committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, unveiled Thursday at a special ceremony in St. Petersburg the medals that will be awarded at the XXII Olympic and XI Paralympic Winter Games.

The honor of opening a box with the first set of Sochi Olympic medals was given to Svetlana Zhurova, a speed skating gold medalist at the 2006 Olympic Games and the deputy of the State Duma.

Guests of honor at the ceremonial event included chairman of the Coordination Commission of the International Olympic Committee Jean-Claude Killy, executive director of the International Paralympic Committee Xavier Gonzalez and deputy chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak.

Chernyshenko opened the presentation ceremony by explaining the uniqueness of the Sochi 2014 medals. Following this, the Olympic and Paralympic medals were revealed to the audience.

The medals are of a bright, original design and reflect the theme of the uniqueness of the first-ever Russian Winter Olympics. They portray golden rays of the sun, which are refracted through the prism of the snowy tops of the mountains, and a warm sea next to frosty ice.

According to organizers, these contrasts of nature will forever remain with the athletes and remind them of the unforgettable 2014 Winter Games.

"An Olympic medal is the innermost gift that remains with an athlete forever," Zhurova said. "I'm looking at this medal, and I understand that no one will have doubts that this award was won in Russia. All Russian traditions are laid in this medal. Everyone will know where this was won."

On the awards is also engraved the "patchwork quilt" -- the image of the 2014 Games -- symbolizing the diversity of cultural traditions of the Russian people. The unusual combination of metal and polycarbonate gives the medals a distinctive lightness and beauty.

The front side of the medal shows the Olympic rings. On the reverse side is written the name of the respective athletic competition in English and the logo of the Games: Sochi 2014. The official name of the Olympics in Russian, English and French is engraved on the outside edge of the medal.

"Medals are the most important trophies at the Olympics. Any athlete is dreaming about them," Chernyshenko said at the press conference. "The organizers tried to bring a part of a country into these awards, so that the athletes could take with them memories not only about the competitions but also about Russia. We did everything so that these medals would most memorable and innovative."

According to organizers, the weight of an Olympic medal will be between 460 and 531 grams, depending on its kind: gold, silver or bronze.

The design of the medals for the Sochi Olympics has been held in the strictest confidence. All that was known was that they would be made only by Russian specialists and with only Russian materials.

For the 2014 Olympics, a record 1,300 medals will be produced.