By Duncan Mackay at the Tower of London 

Sebastian Coe_with_Olympic_and_Paralympic_medals_Tower_of_London_July_2_2012July 2 - The medals to be awarded during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will be stored in secure vaults at the Tower of London after being handed over tonight and placed in the same place as where the Crown Jewels are kept.

The gold, silver and bronze medals which will be awarded to the athletes at Games-times, will be securely locked away in the famous vaults in the Jewel House after being delivered to them by Rio Tinto, the mining company responsible for the production of the precious metals for London 2012.

They will remain there until they are needed for the Victory Ceremonies.

"To the athletes competing to win these medals they are as precious as the Crown Jewels, so it is fitting that they should be stored for safe keeping in the same iconic location," said Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister.

In total, 4,700 medals have been produced and will be awarded in 805 Victory Ceremonies that will take place in over 30 London 2012 venues across the UK

The medals were handed over during a ceremonial event here at which the final medals arrived and were taken down to the vaults by Rio Tinto chairman, Jan du Plessis (pictured below), and Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman.

Rio Tinto_chairman_Jan_du_Plessias_arrives_with_London_2012_Olympic_and_Paralympic_medals_Tower_of_London_July_2_2012
The arrival of the medals were announced by a fanfare by the trumpeters of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood and attended by The Tower's famous Yeoman Warders and 150 Get Set network school children from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Rio Tinto has provided eight tonnes of gold, silver and copper from its Kennecott Utah Copper mine in Salt Lake City and the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia to make the medals.

These were produced by the Royal Mint in South Wales.

The designer of the Olympic Games medals, British artist, David Watkins and the designer of the Paralympic Games medals Lin Cheung, a practising jewellery artist and senior lecturer in jewellery design at Central Saint Martin's College of Arts and Design, London were also here tonight.

The Olympic medals' circular form is a metaphor for the world.

The front of the medal always depicts the same imagery at the summer Games - the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike, stepping out of the depiction of the Parthenon to arrive in the Host City.

The front of the Paralympic medal represents "Spirit in motion".

The image struck into the obverse surface of the Paralympic medal is an imagined close-up section of an outstretched wing of Goddess of Victory, Nike.

This image represents forward flight, power and lightness.

Sebastian Coe_and_Rio_Tinto_chairman_Jan_du_Plessias_take_the_medals_down_to_the_vaults_Tower_of_London_July_2_2012
"For an athlete, winning an Olympic or Paralympic medal represents the conclusion of thousands of hours of training and reaching the highest level in sport," said Coe.

"The Victory Ceremonies then provide the moment they can truly celebrate their success.

"It's great that the London 2012 medals will be kept safe and secure at the Tower of London until then."

The first medals are due to be awarded on the July 28, the day after the Opening Ceremony, for the shooting event. 

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