From January 19 to February 1 next year, the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place and the medals that will be given to the athletes who manage to climb to the podium in South Korea were revealed.
The peculiarity is that the medals for Gangwon 2024 emerged through an open competition in which more than three thousand artists of different nationalities participated for six weeks and which was won by Brazilian Dante Akira Uwai.
“A Brilliant Future” is what Akira Uwai called its creation, who was chosen by a jury composed, among others, of the Olympic skier Laurenne Ross and the New Zealander Zakea Page, who won the competition to design the medals for the Winter Youth Olympic Games that were won in Lausanne in 2020.
“I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, since I was a child it was my favorite hobby. I remember being scolded a lot in the classroom for drawing in the classroom when I shouldn’t have!” Akira Uwai told Olympics.com.
The Brazilian artist, 27 years old, was born in São Paulo and grew up in the city of Brasilia. “I will appreciate this for the rest of my life,” said the architect, who played tennis and swam during his childhood.
“Ever since I was a child, I had a lot of doubts about whether I should dedicate myself to the field of art or not. I live in Brazil, it’s very difficult to make a living from art here. That’s why I studied architecture and not art, to open up more possibilities in the labor market,” the winner explained.
“I was a little lost, not knowing what to do, and when I saw this opportunity, I thought, ‘This is it! I’m going to go back to doing what I really like. This competition ignited that flame again. Having this recognition is like a sign that I am on the right path, that what I nurtured for so many years is really what is worth following,” Akira Uwai acknowledged.
In September of last year, after the opinion of a group of people of different ages and nationalities, Gangwon 2024 revealed its motto: “Grow together, shine forever”.
Precisely, the design of Brazilian Akira Uwai was inspired by that motto: vertical lines are used to convey the idea of growth, while random elements created through cuts and changes in texture represent the diverse group of people participating in the Olympic Games.
“I thought of two guidelines,” said the Brazilian artist and explained: “The first is that I didn’t want the medal to be a frame for a painting, just to be looked at. I wanted it to be treated like a sculpture. And another thing was also to work on materiality. In architecture, we learn that you can’t sell a building just by looking at it. You must enter the building, you must touch the building to really understand how the material works. The medal is made of metal, which can be given various finishes, polished, matte, and different textures. I wanted this polished part to be the star of the medal.”
The Olympics website states that the variety of shapes of the medals designed by Akira Uwai demonstrates diversity and how we can all contribute in different ways to peace and coexistence, while the polished finishes create small dynamic sparks of light, which symbolize our desire to improve ourselves and make positive changes in the world.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games bring together athletes aged 15 to 18 and Gangwon 2024 will be the fourth edition, and the first to be held outside Europe, after Innsbruck (2012), Lillehammer (2016) and Lausanne (2020).
Gangwon 2024 will feature biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing, each sport with its different specialties. The mountain competitions will be held in PyeongChang, while the indoor events will be held in the Gangneung Olympic Park. In total, 81 gold medals will be at stake, designed by Brazilian Akira Uwai.