By Tom Degun at the British Museum in London

paralympic_medals_19-09-11September 19 - London 2012 have today unveiled the medals that will be awarded to the world's top disability sport athletes at the Paralympic Games next year here at the British Museum as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The gold, silver and bronze medals have been put on display at the British Museum alongside the Olympic medals - which were unveiled on July 27 this year at Trafalgar Square - and now are available for the public to view in a special exhibition titled Mine to Medals: The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

The Paralympic medals were designed by Lin Cheung who was selected by an independent panel in a highly competitive process involving over 100 top designs.

The 40-year-old from Hampshire is a practising jewellery artist and senior lecturer in jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London.

The obverse side of the medal represents "spirit in motion" with an imagined close-up section of an outstretched wing of the Greek Goddess of Victory, which has been depicted on the front of the Olympic medal since 2004.

The reverse of the medal represents "the heart of victory" with a depiction of the area close to the heart of Victory that is symbolically chosen to reflect inclusion and togetherness at an historical event.

The reverse is also overlaid with textural qualities moulded directly from the plaster cast of The Nike of Paionios residing in the British Museum Cast Collection.

"It is very exciting to think that elite Paralympic athletes will be celebrating their achievements next year at London 2012 Paralympic Games by wearing my medal design," said Cheung at the British Museum unveiling event.

"The design for the front and back clearly talk to each other through the sculptural qualities of the victory goddess' tunic on one side and her imagined wings on the other and this was very important to me but, ultimately, I hope the medal will be enjoyed and cherished as a symbol of great personal achievement."

The metal for the medals come from Rio Tinto who are a domestic Tier Three sponsor of the London 2012 Games as the Official Mining and Metals Provider.

The metal itself will be mined at Rio Tinto's Kennecott Utah Copper Mine near Salt Lake City in America and from the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia - the same locations where the metal for the Olympic medals has been mined.

The Mine to Medals: The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals exhibition at the British Museum is also being supported by Rio Tinto.

Jeremy Hunt (pictured second from right with Cheung), Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, was also at the unveiling event and said, "The excitement of hosting the Paralympics Games next summer is building.

"With Paralympic tickets already on sale, details of the torch relay announced last week and the official unveiling of the medals today, we are in a good place ahead of next year.

"The British Museum and Rio Tinto have done a great job in displaying the story of the medals creation.

"I'm sure it will inspire our Paralympians to do everything possible to get their hands on one next summer."

The gold medal is made up of 92.5 per cent silver and 1.34 per cent gold, with the remainder copper, although there is a minimum of 6g of gold if every medal

The silver medal is made up of 92.5 per cent silver, with the remainder copper, while the bronze medal is made up of 97.0 per cent copper, 2.5 per cent zinc and 0.5 per cent tin.

"Winning a Paralympic medal is the pinnacle of an athlete's career and the reward for years of dedication," said British wheelchair racing legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, winner of 16 Paralympic medals - 11 of which were gold - in a glittering career, who was also at the event.

"With less than a year to go I'm sure that seeing these beautiful medals will make Paralympic hopefuls around the world train that little bit harder to ensure they're in the best possible shape to win one."

At the London 2012 Paralympics, over 2,100 Paralympic medals will be presented in 502 Paralympic victory ceremonies in more than 19 venues over 11 days of competition.

The medals will go into production later this year at Royal Mint's headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales.

"For those lucky enough to win one of these stunning medals it will remain a treasured possession for the rest of their lives," added International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven.

"It will make all the years of training and dedication to be both physically and mentally ready for London 2012 more than just worthwhile."

The medals will be on display - free of charge - at the British Museum until September 9, 2012 when the Closing Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympics will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

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