Here's your medal - try not to lose it

LONDON Thu Aug 9, 2012 1:37pm EDT

Brazil's Felipe Kitadai celebrates with his bronze B medal after the awards ceremony for the men's -60kg final judo match, at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Brazil's Felipe Kitadai celebrates with his bronze B medal after the awards ceremony for the men's -60kg final judo match, at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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LONDON (Reuters) - British tennis player Andy Murray's two dogs were photographed wearing his silver and gold Olympic medals from the London Games.

Brazilian judoka Felipe Kitadai damaged his bronze medal when he dropped it in the shower, getting a replacement from London officials.

Venezuelan fencer Ruben Limardo Gascon was spotted wearing his gold medal on the London underground.

Winning athletes walk away from the podium with their medals around their necks but are often at a loss over what to do with them before leaving the athletes' village and heading home where they can be securely stored.

South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh who won the 100 meters men's breaststroke, said it was hard to let his gold medal out of his sight.

British rower Helen Glover, the first British woman to win an Olympic rowing event with her partner Heather Stanning, said she was sleeping with her gold medal by her pillow.

Olympians have been known to lose their medals while still at the Games and are advised not to lose it as no insurance comes with the hard-won gong, and gold medals at London are valued at about $706 at current metal prices.

"Once handed over the medal becomes the responsibility of the athletes," said a spokesman from the London Olympics organizing committee LOCOG.

He said he was not aware of any more damage to medals or losses at the London Games although this has happened previously.

Dutch rower Diederik Simon was sitting in a restaurant in Athens in 2004 when he realized he had lost his silver medal. He didn't tell anyone but went to the police who managed to track down the taxi driver who had the medal in his cab.

Italian rower Davide Tizzano leaped into the water in joy after being awarded his gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Games but the medal slipped out of his hand when team mate Agostino Abbagnale landed on him. It took scuba divers two days to recover the missing medal.

LOST MEDAL

Once home, athletes can mount their medals in cases, secure them in safes or safety deposit boxes, or give them to museums or sporting organizations to be publicly displayed. Some, however, do lose them.

Snowboarder Shaun White said he lost his gold medal from the 2006 Turin winter Games three or four times. Once he found it in the pocket of a passenger seat in the family car and another time realized his mother had taken it to the dry cleaners as the ribbon was dirty.

"Occasionally I take it out but there's so much going on that I have to rely on people around me (to keep track of it)," he told reporters before winning another gold in Vancouver 2010.

Boxer Muhammad Ali lost the gold medal he won at the 1960 Rome Games, for years saying that he threw it into a river after being refused service at a restaurant because he was black.

In an emotional ceremony at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Ali, shaking from Parkinson's disease, was presented with a replacement medal by then International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

An IOC spokesman said typically they get one or two requests for replacements every year and they produce new medals marked replica to distinguish them from the originals.

He said cities hosting Olympics had an obligation to transmit the moulds for their medals to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, so replicas could be made.

For the IOC rules state that modern gold medals need to have a minimum of 92.5 percent silver content and at least six grams of gold but each host city can design its own medal.

An IOC spokeswoman said there was no rules about how or where an athlete may wear their medal, unlike the strict protocol surrounding military medals.

"We just request that the athletes treat their medal with respect and in the Olympic spirit," said the spokeswoman.

(editing by Michael Holden)

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