Europe

Sochi Olympics: Winners to get special meteorite medals

Part of Chelyabinsk meteorite Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The space rock broke up into several big chunks as it plummeted to Earth

Russia has embedded bits of the Chelyabinsk meteorite in special commemorative medals that will be given to the 10 gold medallists at the Sochi Olympics on 15 February.

The winter sports stars will get their extra medals exactly one year after a huge chunk of space rock crashed into a lake in the Urals, central Russia.

The 1.5-metre-long (5ft) rock was later hauled up from icy Lake Chebarkul.

Nearly 40 more of the meteorite medals will be sold to private collectors.

The asteroid explosion over Russia released as much energy as an estimated 500,000 tonnes of TNT, sending a shockwave twice around the globe. It caused widespread damage and injured more than 1,000 people in the Chelyabinsk area.

A meteorite chip is being embedded in the centre of each commemorative medal by specialists at a workshop in Zlatoust, in the Chelyabinsk region, Russian media report.

Russian TV news showed the medals being made in a video report (in Russian).

The local news website Novyy Region says the medal-crafting technique dates back to 1815 and is very laborious.

The special medals will have a protective nickel coating and will also be adorned with gold and silver.

In total 1,400 medals will be awarded at the Sochi Games, which start next week, and about 100 more will be kept at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Radio Golos Rossii reports.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The biggest chunk smashed through the ice covering Lake Chebarkul

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