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It is the most prized asset at any Games, a symbol of sporting greatness that, once placed around an athlete’s neck, seals their place in the Olympic pantheon. And continuing a tradition that began at the inaugural YOG Singapore 2010, the design of the iconic Olympic medal is once again open to the public.
The launch of the Medal Design Competition for the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 gives fans from all parts of the world the chance to make their mark on Olympic history – as Romanian master’s student Burzo Ciprian can testify.
“When I found out about the competition, I told myself, ‘I must enter and win.’ I knew this was a unique opportunity to achieve something special,” explains the winner of the Medal Design Competition for the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016.
“An Olympic medal is something unique. It’s a dream for every athlete in the world to win one. It symbolises emotion, competition and respect. As a designer, you have to put all of these elements into one simple piece of metal.”
Of course, the process is not as straightforward as conceiving a single idea, creating a medal design and entering it into the competition on the same day. Designers require ample time to research, prepare and experiment – sifting through several sketches and painstakingly perfecting their chosen design before they can even think of submitting it for consideration.
“I had to sketch dozens of designs, and I consulted my teachers to hear their thoughts,” reveals Slovakian student Matej Čička, who was crowned the winner of the YOG Nanjing 2014 competition.
“My main inspiration was athletics tracks. For me, they are one of the main characteristics of the Olympic Games. I did some research on Nanjing: its history, culture and iconic landmarks. In the final days before submitting my entry I had three or four preferred options that I had to choose from. In the end, I think I chose the right one!”
And the rich rewards for the victors certainly make the weeks of hard work worthwhile: as well as the acclaim that comes with winning the competition, it can also do wonders for a young designer’s future career prospects.
“It didn’t sink in at first, but a few minutes after I received the call I started to realise what was going on,” Matej explains.
“My face was frozen with a wide smile for hours. I was congratulated by people from all over the world - people I didn't know, or who I’d never even seen in my life. My family was so happy, and is still so proud of me.”
Then there’s the small perk of being invited to attend the YOG itself, where the competition winners witness their own medals being handed out to the athletes – a memorable experience by all means.
“When I finally arrived at the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016, it was incredible,” says Burzo, whose victorious design was called To the TOP.
“I got to meet so many influential people, all of whom have changed the world through sport. Everything was so special there: the location, the locals, the volunteers, the Change-Makers and, of course, the athletes. Everyone there deserved a medal.”
And as far as he is concerned, Burzo’s advice for budding designers hoping to enter the current competition is simple.
“Do something unique! Do something you are proud of,” he says. “Create something positive and emotive through your design – and don’t give up!”
The deadline for submissions for the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 Medal Design Competition is 12 January 2018. Applicants can submit their designs online at www.medal-design-competition.com. The winning entrant will see their design feature on the gold, silver and bronze medals, win a trip to Buenos Aires to watch the Opening Ceremony and the awarding of their medals in the sports competitions, and receive a complete collection of the medals to keep.