Chinese athletes lash out over detail on Olympic gold medals

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Wang Shun and Zhu Xueying, pictured here after winning gold at the Olympics.
Wang Shun and Zhu Xueying have both reported issues with their medals. Image: Getty

Two Chinese athletes have hit out after the Olympics, reporting issues with their gold medals.

Trampoline champion Zhu Xueying and 200m individual medley swimmer Wang Shun have both reported that their medals are “flaking” and left with blemishes.

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Zhu said she accidentally peeled some gold from the face of the medal after noticing a mark on it.

“Let me clarify this … I didn’t mean to peel the thing off at first, I just discovered that there was a small mark on my medal,” she told the Global Times.

“I thought that it was probably just dirt, so I rubbed it with my finger and found that nothing changed, so then I picked at it and the mark got bigger.”

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Wang said he had the same issue and declared: “I dare not to pick at it any more”.

Organisers went to great lengths to make the Tokyo Games as environmentally friendly as possible, including making the medals from recycled electronics.

But despite their best intentions it appears to have backfired.

Chinese fans were left fuming over the farce on social media.

Some said the medals were “too experimental” and that “those medallists deserve something more valuable".

Zhang Xue told the Global Times they believed the medals given out at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 were of much better quality.

“I once saw a news report that said a foreign athlete had a fire break out in her place,” Zhang said. 

“Many things got burnt, but not her medal. The old Chinese saying ‘Real gold does not fear the test of fire’ holds true.”

The 'flaking' gold medal, pictured here on social media.
A photo of the 'flaking' gold medal. Image: Twitter

Olympics organisers respond to 'flaking' medals

The Tokyo Games' organising committee told the Global Times the peeling material was a protective coating rather than the gold plating.

“Even if you remove the coating, it does not directly affect the medals’ quality," a statement added.

Over a two-year period between 2017 and 2019, organisers collected 78,985 tons of electronic appliances to make the medals.

The metal was then smelted down before being moulding into medals.

As we've seen in the past, Olympians can get their medals replaced if they are lost of damaged, however they have to pay a fee.

The International Olympic Committee keeps a mould of each medal design from every Olympics for such circumstances.

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