London 2012 Olympic 50p coins go into circulation

Image caption,
The 29 designs show Olympic and Paralympic sports

New 50 pence coins commemorating the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been launched.

The coins each feature one of 29 sports on the reverse and have been designed by people from England and Wales.

They were picked from nearly 30,000 entries in a Royal Mint public competition.

The designers range from a Manchester policeman and a delivery driver from Reading to a bank clerk from Preston and a Bristol schoolgirl.

They share the honour of seeing their designs come into circulation and also knowing that, like every UK coin in general use, it has been approved by the Queen and the Treasury.

The 50 pence pieces feature well-known sports such as sailing, swimming and basketball, but also lesser-known disciplines including handball and the Paralympic sport boccia.

Jonathan Olliffe, whose designs for gymnastics and aquatics were chosen, said: "I can't believe it. To think how many people entered the national competition and to have my designs made and circulated around the nation is very exciting."

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "Coins are a part of the fabric of our daily life, so to have a range of coins designed specifically to celebrate London 2012 is a huge honour, made all the more special by the fact that members of the public have designed them.

"The 50ps will be part of a long-lasting, wide-reaching cultural legacy that will benefit the entire nation and I'm looking forward to finding the first one in my change and collecting the entire range," added Lord Coe.

Image caption,
Florence Jackson's design had already been unveiled

Two of the winning designs were produced by children and had already been unveiled, but not yet issued.

Florence Jackson, from Bristol, was nine when she beat 17,000 other entries to win a BBC One Blue Peter competition last year.

Her high-jump motif was the first in the series of 29 officially-licensed 50p designs.

The second design, by Theo Crutchley-Mack, 16, from Halifax, was a picture of a cyclist in a velodrome and was unveiled earlier in 2010.

The Royal Mint said that 87 million of the 29 special 50p coins would come into circulation over 2010 and 2011.

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