With the heroes’ welcome the UK’s Paralympians received upon returning home from the 2016 Summer Paralympics, PlayPH takes a look at a key feature of the competition that it’s easy to take for granted: the medals. Held in Rio 2016 following this year’s Olympic Sumer Games, this year’s Paralympics saw 4,300 athletes from 159 countries competing for 2,642 medals, each packed with features most people have no idea exist.
According to the Brazilian Mint’s Lara Amorelli, whose team designed and crafted the medals, ‘These (medals) represent the high point of the career of an athlete who is dedicated to reach the podium. When this happens, it is only fair that the medal symbolizes their achievement, and for this reason, we seek to produce pieces of rare artistic beauty.’
PlayPH takes a closer look at these amazing tributes to athletic excellence.
Handed out only once every four years, Olympic and Paralympic medals are among the most coveted sporting awards on the planet. Fittingly, these marks of excellence are manufactured alongside their more well-known counterparts under exacting conditions by the Royal Brazilian Mint.
Keeping with the organizer’s objective of making Rio 2016 known for its sustainability, all the materials that went into the construction of this year’s medals, Olympic and Paralympic, contain repurposed and/or legally-acquired organic materials. For instance, the gold is entirely free of mercury, with entirely traceable origins while the Silver is made from 30% recycled materials, and the Bronze consists of 40% industrial waste. Even the cases, which are works of art in their own right, are hewn from certified Curupixá wood.
All 877 Gold, 876 Silver, and 889 Bronze medals have hollow centers containing steel ball bearings. Each medal ranking contains a different number of bearings that rattle at rank-specific pitches when shaken, allowing winners to savor a sound of victory they can bring home.
For visually-impaired athletes, there has always been Braille lettering embossed on the face of the medal, and this year’s is no different. When translated, the text reads, “Rio 2016 Paralympic Games”
A medal like no other! These Paralympic winners are listening to their medals! For the first time ever, the Paralympic Games have placed a device inside the medals that use tiny steel balls to make a sound when they are shaken, allowing visually impaired athletes to identify which type they are. The bronze medals have 16 steel balls and make the lowest sound. The silver ones have 20 balls and the golds have 28, producing the loudest noise. All of the medals also have the words 'Rio 2016 Paralympic Games' written on them in Braille. Awesome! @rio2016 @paralympics
Contrary to popular belief, the “para-” portion of the Paralympics doesn’t come from any sort of term implying disability. Rather, it is derived from “Parallel”, as the event is meant to be viewed in the same vein as the conventional Olympics, which traditionally takes place in the same venue. With this year’s competition yielding unprecedented media attention through its shattered records and newly-minted stars, it’s safe to say that, with Rio 2016, the Paralympics have come of age.
Congratulations to everyone who took part, you inspire us all!