Medal set and packaging, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, metal / textile, made by the Perth Mint and the Royal Australian Mint, 2000
Woitek Pietranik, distinguished designer and sculptor at the Royal Australian Mint, looked to the Sydney Opera House, and Olympic torch and rings when designing victory medals for the 2000 Games. Recognised around the world, these motifs represent Sydney as a modern city embracing the Olympic movement. Its rippling background refers to the beaches and waterways that charcaterise Sydney.
In keeping with the Games' ancient Greek origins, the obverse illustrates Nike, the goddess of Victory, as well as wreath, amphora and horsedrawn chariot. Italian artist, Guisseppe Cassiolo, designed this motif for the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and since then it has appeared on all Olympic medals. The Sydney variant however, includes sprigs of wattle that symbolically unite the 2000 Olympics with the ancient Olympic movement.
In 1999, Pietranik was one of many well-known Australian artists to enter the Sydney 2000 Victory Medal Design Competition. One year later, his drawing was in the process of being translated into around 3100 medals struck by the Perth and Royal Australian Mints - the Perth Mint releasing the gold series, and the Royal Australian Mint releasing the silver and bronze.
Through their design, intended use, and manufacture, the Olympic medals are of equal significance to the state of New South Wales and to the nation. They signify a brief and uniquely patriotic period when the eyes of Australia, and the world focussed squarely upon Sydney and its people. They also make symbolic reference to the past, including Australia's rich mining heritage.
The gold within the Olympic medals was sourced from the Orange, Cabonne and Blayney districts of western New South Wales - sites of the former Ophir goldfields where, in 1851, Australia's first payable gold was found. Although this gold rush proved to be short-lived, the area itself continued to support prospectors and mining companies for many years to come. Indeed, even today, the area supports two of Australia's most extensive mines.
Similarly, the silver in both the gold and silver medals is derived from the lucrative Cannington Mine in southern Queensland, and Australia's oldest silver mine at Broken Hill. Together, the gold and silver medals symbolically fuse Australia's past and present, and signify the contributions that mining has made to Australia's development.
Equally symbolic, the bronze medals were struck from obsolete one and two cent coins which were designed for Australia's conversion to decimal currency in 1966. These were once prolific coins, and the resulting bronze medals have, in effect, been handled by thousands of every-day Australians.
The Sydney Olympic medals (and other medals in the Sydney 2000 Games Collection) are made according to strict IOC guidelines. They are uniformly 70 millimetres in diameter, five millimetres in width, and contain specific, metallic contents - the gold medals being sterling silver coated with 6 grams of gold, the silver being entirely sterling silver, and the bronze medals being an alloy of copper, zinc, silver and tin.
Designed by WoitekPietranik
Perth Mint struck the gold medal, and the Royal Australian Mint struck the silver and bronze medals. The Woolmark Company manufactured the neck ribbons.
These medals were made in 2000.