7 Surprising Facts About the 2012 Olympic Medals [PHOTOS]

April 18, 2012 5:25 am

As the world marks the 100 day countdown to the London Olympic Games, a small army of metal workers in Wales, UK are closing in on finishing production on their largest order to date — every single medal for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Though daunting, the task comes with high reward, explained employee Gary Rosser to The Guardian.

“I’m proud to be involved,” said Rosser who is one of 800 workers on the project. “It’s something to tell the grandchildren about, that I helped to make these Olympic medals.”

Struck five times and then heated to over 1300° F, the medals are pressed 15 times, each time with the weight of nearly two million pounds! Check out seven other fascinating facts about the medals that you will soon see dangling from Olympians’ necks.

1.) Each medal takes 10 hours to make on a special giant press named Colossus. The machine is one of two in the world and was built specifically for these Olympic medals.

2.) The gold medal actually contains very little gold. It’s made up of 92.5% silver and 1.34% gold with copper filling in the rest. However the International Olympic Committee requires at least 6 grams of gold per medal. The ore is truly international too, as it comes from a copper mine near Salt Lake City, Utah and another in Mongolia.

3.) The London 2012 medals are the heaviest in Summer Olympic history.

4.) The medals are made in Pontyclun, Wales by a company called The Royal Mint. They’re also making special commemorative coins for the games.

5.) The image on the front of the medal is that of ‘Nike’, the Greek Goddess of Sport, stepping out of the Parthenon to arrive to the host city. It is customary for the front of all Olympic medals to feature this scene.

6.) The medals were designed by British artist David Watkins. You probably know him better for his work as a special effects modelmaker on “Stanley Kubrick’s 2011: A Space Odyssey.”

7.) 4,700 medals will be made for the Summer Games.

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