A history of Commonwealth Games medals3 Nov 2017 by Hope Kerslake
Winning a Commonwealth Games medal is a moment etched in time, a story that can define an athlete’s career.
It represents the training, sacrifice and determination of the athlete’s pursuit of glory for their country.
But there is also a story behind the medals themselves.
GC2018.com takes a look at the story of some of the Commonwealth Games’ prize winning medals.
Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games
The XIV Commonwealth Games, the third to be hosted by New Zealand and second by Auckland, saw a fantastic Games which showcased Kiwi community and culture.
Twenty-nine of the competing nations succeeded in winning medals from the 639 available with Australia heading the medal table with 162 total medals, England were second with 129, Canada in third with 113 and home nation New Zealand claiming fourth place with 58.
The 1990 medal features the Games emblem, a shooting star motif, also referred as the ‘hungry enzyme’, as well as an oak tree with acorns on the front of the medal with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) logo and New Zealand’s native plant, the silver fern.
Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games
The XV Commonwealth Games, in Victoria, was the fourth time Canada had hosted the ‘Friendly Games’.
Sixty-three nations sent 2,557 athletes and 914 officials to the North American country with Australia finishing the Games on top of the medals table (182) whilst hosts Canada ended in second place (128), in front of England (125). Nigeria also marked their arrival as a Commonwealth sporting force by picking up 37 medals, placing them fourth on the medal tally.
As a unique approach, the 1990 gold, silver and bronze medals all featured a different design on the front with the reverse side featuring the CGF symbol, a crown with the Commonwealth Games initial below surrounded by a chain arranged in the shape of a pentagon. The five sides represent the Commonwealth's presence in the five continental regions.
The design on the front of the medals features the Games emblem with the gold medal showcasing artwork of a Coast Salish wolf, silver medal showcasing a Nuu-chah-nulth wolf and the bronze a Kwagiulth Kolus (bird).
Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games
For the first time in its 68-year history, the, Commonwealth Games were held in Asia with the XVI Games held in Kuala Lumpur.
Team sports were featured for the first time in Games history with a new record of 70 countries and 5,065 athletes and officials sent to the Malaysian capital.
The top four countries in the medal standing were Australia (198), England (136), Canada (99) and host country Malaysia (36). Nauru also achieved an impressive 12th place with three gold medals.
The winner’s medals, designed and handcrafted by Royal Selangor craftsman were made from solid pewter and embellished to produce the gold, silver and bronze variants.
In order to provide a unique memento of the country for athletes five prominent Malaysian landmarks were sculptured on the front. Featuring the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Parliament House, National Monument, Menara Kuala Lumpur, as well as their nation's crown jewel, the Petronas Twin Towers, the landmarks captured the country's architectural legacies of colonial past combined with their present day.
The reverse side of both medals features the CGF symbol with all 1,340 medals hand-finished and packed in special presentation boxes made out of Malaysian rubber wood.
Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games
The XVII Commonwealth Games was the most significant multi-sport event to be held in the United Kingdom since the Olympics of 1948. It was the largest in the history of the Commonwealth Games in terms of participating nations, with 72 countries.
For the first time in Games history, and at any multi-sport event in the world, a limited number of full medal events for elite athletes with a disability (EAD) were included in an inclusive sports program with 3,679 athletes taking part across 14 individual and three team sports.
Australia headed up the medal table with a total of 207, home nation England came in second with 165, Canada in third with 116 and India claimed fourth place with 69.
In celebration of inclusion and being the biggest multi-sport event ever held in the UK, the 2002 medals highlighted the Commonwealth Games Spirit of Friendship logo on the front and the CGF symbol on the back.
Weighing 150g, The Royal Mint produced 524 gold medals, 524 silver and 594 bronze (for events that don’t have a third place play-off). The gold medal had a sterling silver core and was plated with 22 carat gold, the silver medal was made of sterling silver and the bronze was solid bronze.
Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games
Melbourne successfully hosted the XVIII Commonwealth Games in 2006 and for the first time in Games history the Queen's Baton visited every single participating Commonwealth nation and territory, a journey of 180,000km.
There were 5,766 athletes and team officials in attendance in the Victorian capital with the home nation having the largest team with 535 athletes and topping the medal tally with 222. England came in second (110), Canada third (86) and India finished in fourth place (50).
The medals from the event were produced and designed as a tribute to a significant number of small and large local and national companies joining together. The gold for the medals was taken from the Ballarat region, located north-west of Melbourne, emphasising the importance the goldfields have played in Victoria's gold mining history and BHP Billiton provided the silver for the production of the silver medals.
With 245 medal events to be contested during the Games, a total of 1,334 medals were handed out with the elements of the Games identity and halo lines on the front and the iconic emblem of the CGF on the back.
Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games
Home to 14 million people, the vibrant city of New Delhi, hosted the XIX Commonwealth Games, making it the first time India hosted the Games and the second time the event was held in Asia.
As the biggest cultural and sporting event ever to be held in India, approximately 6,000 athletes from 71 nations and territories competed in 17 sports and four para-sports, making it the largest Commonwealth Games to date.
The four countries who topped the medal tally were Australia (177), England (142), host nation India (101), and Canada (75).
The medals, made by the Indian Government Mint, Kolkata, were designed to represent the struggle and rise to glory for each athlete. From a city that is rich in culture and history, the medal design was quite clean and simple with a rising upward spiral, that gave the medal dynamism becoming the highlight of the medal.
Six millimetres thick and with a diameter of 63.5mm, the front of the medal had the Delhi 2010 logo and dates with the back displaying the CGF logo. During the Games, 271 gold, 271 silver and 282 bronze medals were awarded during the Games.
The medal case is clean and simple with black background enhancing the logo embossed on top in gold, silver or bronze - matching the medal inside.
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
The XX Commonwealth Games was the largest multi-sport event ever held in Glasgow and is fondly remembered as one of most successful Games ever.
With around 4,950 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories, Australia was finally bumped from its prominent position on the medal tally with England totalling 174 medals, Australia 137, Canada 82 and home nation Scotland 53 medals.
More than 1,380 medals were awarded at 261 medal ceremonies during the Games with the medals designed by Glasgow-based artist and lecturer Jonathan Boyd who uses digital technologies in his work as well as hand-crafted skills and traditional metalworking techniques.
Weighing in at 100g, the medals were handmade by a team of 11 specialist jeweller makers from the Glasgow School of Art.
Reflecting Glasgow's industrial heritage as well as a sense of the athlete's skill and movement in the design.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
The GC2018 medals were unveiled before 700 guests at the GC2018 Charity Gala and Medal Reveal at The Star Gold Coast on Saturday 4 November and were designed by Queensland-based Indigenous artist Delvene Cockatoo-Collins.
Click here to read about the design and production of the medals.
More than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 Commonwealth nations and territories will come to Australia to share in the excitement across 18 sports and a record seven para-sports and it will be the first major multi-sport event with equality in the medal event program between men and women.
The XXI Commonwealth Games comprises of the largest competition schedule ever in Commonwealth Games history.
With this comes the next set of achievements, the next round of sporting greatness and the GC2018 medals are sure to provide their own story, a symbol of greatness and a prize which will be shared across the Commonwealth.