The eight tons of gold, silver and copper unearthed from mines in Mongolia and Utah and now under guard at the Tower of London is the largest ever haul used to make Olympic medals.
The 4,700 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be guarded alongside Britain’s crown jewels until they are presented on the podium. The winners’ medals are certainly precious, even though gold only makes up a tiny portion of their alloy.
A gold medal weighing about 410 grams contains only six grams of gold - 1.34% of its weight - the remainder being silver compound (92.5%) and copper. However, the recent gold and silver booms that have seen prices double since the 2008 Games in Beijing ensure that the medals are the most expensive in Olympic history.
Added to this, the dimensions of the London medals (85 millimetres in diameter and seven millimetres thick) make them the heaviest ever struck for the Summer Olympics. In Beijing, the medals were around half as heavy at 200 grams. But the London medals remain below the record set by the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, where the medals weighed up to 576 grams.
‘Big challenge’ for London to match Beijing
Asia’s Olympic chief said that London 2012 faced a ‘big challenge’ to match the Beijing Games.
Sheikh Ahmadal Fahadal Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, said London had a hard act to follow after Beijing’s no-expense-spared event in 2008.
“I am very excited and to follow up all the preparations now we are a couple of days from the opening ceremony,” he said. “I think London faces a big challenge because Beijing was such a great success. London is a famous capital city and everyone is happy to be here, but people are looking for the technical things like the opening ceremony, the competitions and the venues.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.