It’s the culmination of a lifetime’s blood, sweat and tears, the moment the athletes make the Olympic podium and collect their medals.
Except, in Rio 2016, it’s not just medals that the winners get their hands on. Oh no, these lucky athletes also get their hands on something that looks like it belongs in a Kinder Surprise: a small little figurine, a souvenir of their Rio experience.
But what exactly are these small statues, and why are they given out?
What are the little medal ceremony statues anyway?
What are the little plastic gifts given at the medal ceremony #RioOlympics2016
— Liz Thomas (@Liz_Tom115) August 13, 2016
They’ve been confused as paperweights and napkin holders, but in actual fact, the little figurines are designed to serve a very special purpose.
What are those random napkin holder things you get with your Olympic medal. Can't see many of them making it home.????????
— James Patrick Ryan (@JamesPatrickRy1) August 14, 2016
The models are actually little 3D-printed versions of the Rio 2016 logo, apparently designed to hold and display the Olympic medal.
— Patis Gloria (@particiagloria) August 15, 2016
Why are they giving out these statues/figurines/medal holder things?
According to the New York Times, the idea was that these little statues would be ‘more sustainable’ than handing out bouquets of flowers, as past Olympic Games have done.
Christy Nicolay, the executive producer of the victory ceremonies, says flowers often get chucked away: “We give it to an athlete, and very often they just throw it away,” she said.
Whereas these little figurines, she hopes, will be kept and treasured. So no putting them on eBay medal winners OK??
In 2012 British canoe sprinters Liam Heath and Jon Schofield threw their bouquet of flowers into the crowd…
Thankfully, when they won silver in 2016, they didn’t chuck their new toys at anyone…