London unveils medals

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The London 2012 Olympic medals were unveiled at an event at the end of July 2011 by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal and London 2012 Organising Committee chair Seb Coe at an event in Trafalgar Square to mark one year to go to the Olympic Games.

IOC president Jacques Rogge and IOC Coordination Commission chairman Denis Oswald were also present at the special ceremony. The medals will be produced in Britain and have been designed by British artist David Watkins, who is an established artist in the field of decorative art. When creating the brief, the Victory Ceremonies team of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) worked closely with the British Museums Keeper of Coins and Medals, Philip Attwood, to look at the symbolic history of medals in Europe in the last century. The LOCOG Athletes Committee, chaired by Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards, was also heavily involved in its development. Following the initial tender, six artists were selected for the second stage of design and development. Based on their work, the panel – which comprised experienced creative leaders and sports personalities – felt that David Watkins' design for the London 2012 Olympic medals held a narrative that befitted the athletes achievements. The medals' circular form is a metaphor for the world. The front of the medal always depicts the same imagery at the summer Games – the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike, stepping out of the depiction of the Panathinaiko Stadium to arrive in the Host City. The design for the reverse features five symbolic elements: The curved background implies a bowl similar to the design of an amphitheatre. The core emblem is an architectural expression, a metaphor for the modern City, and is deliberately jewel–like. The grid suggests both a pulling together and a sense of outreach – an image of radiating energy that represents the athletes' efforts. The River Thames in the background is a symbol for London and also suggests a fluttering baroque ribbon, adding a sense of celebration. 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. David Watkins said of his design: " It is exciting to think that the finest athletes in the world will be wearing my medal design next summer. Its key symbols juxtapose, front and back, the goddess Nike for the spirit and tradition of the Games, and the River Thames for the city of London. I hope the medal will be enjoyed and treasured as a record of great personal achievements in 2012. ","43

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