Medals that rattle: Visually impaired athletes ring in the sound of success in Rio

The medals at the Rio Paralympics have features that make them easier for visually impaired athletes to identify.
The medals at the Rio Paralympics have features that make them easier for visually impaired athletes to identify.PHOTO: RIO 2016
Genrik Pavliukianec of Lithuania winds up for a play during his team's 8-7 goalball win over the United States at the Rio Paralympics on Sept 10. Players wear blindfolds in this game for the visually impaired.
Genrik Pavliukianec of Lithuania winds up for a play during his team's 8-7 goalball win over the United States at the Rio Paralympics on Sept 10. Players wear blindfolds in this game for the visually impaired.PHOTO: NYTIMES

In addition to Braille inscriptions, visually impaired athletes at the Rio Paralympics have another way to identify their medals - sound.

Each of the 2,642 medals - which weigh 500g - contains a device that uses small steel balls to make a noise when shaken.

The sound varies by medal type - so the bronze medals, which hold 16 balls, make the lowest tone, while the gold medals, with 28 balls, make the loudest noise.

The International Olympic Committee posted pictures on Tuesday (Sept 13) showing Paralympians such as United States swimmer Tharon Drake listening to their medals while on the podium.

Medal designer Victor Hugo Berbert told the International Business Times in June that he hoped this innovation would catch on in future games, complementing the usual Braille writing.

"That the next games bring other sensory elements for the athletes and that this might carry on, that's what we hope," he said.