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Touching a Silver Medal

Brazilian judo player Tiago Camilo lets fans fondle his bronze medal.

We've reached the point of the Olympics where you get to run into random athletes wearing medals around their neck. Or, more accurately, you get to run into random athletes putting their medals around their necks for the benefit of TV cameras doing glory of victory spots, or for fans wanting to pose for photos.

I really should have taken this photo with me holding the medal.

Like, Briony Cole, an Australian synchronized 10-meter platform diver who won silver this week. She took her medal off yesterday and remarked how heavy it was. Then she put it back on. Then she took it off again and remarked how heavy it was, when the TV camera guy asked her to do it again.

When she was done, I had a go at lifting the medal. And yeah, it is surprisingly heavy. The back of the medal is all shiny, with rings of jade laid into the medal for the first time, apparently, and the Beijing logo in the middle. "The design of the medals is a result of hard work and enthusiasm of many people," according to BOCOG. And it feels a bit wrong to hold it when it's not yours, like sitting in the driver's seat of Clinton Portis's Maserati or something. I wanted it out of my hands as quickly as possible.

When I talked to Briony, she had only had the medal in her possession for around 24 hours. Friends told her she should sleep with it under her pillow. That seemed odd, though, so she put it on her dresser. She said she would "put it in a box or something" when she got home.

Then, at judo, Brazilian bronze medalist Tiago Camilo was walking around the concourse posing for photos with fans. The fans were fondling his medal. But Tiago seemed happy enough to let them. What else are you gonna do with a medal at the Olympics, I guess.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 14, 2008; 3:19 PM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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