Faster, higher, rustier: Medals from Rio Olympics damaged

More than 80 American athletes have sent medals they won at the Rio Olympics to U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters to be shipped to games organizers, who will replace them due to flaking, black spots and other damage, the USOC said Tuesday.

The Americans, including gold-medal wrestlers Kyle Snyder and Helen Maroulis, are among at least 100 Olympians from across the globe with defective medals.

Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings is also among the group; she says her bronze medal is flaking and rusting, and USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said some swimmers have damaged medals as well.

The USOC learned about the problems in December and reached out to all the American sports federations in January to begin the process.

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Rio Games spokesman Mario Andrada said officials have noted problems with the covering on 6 to 7 percent of the medals.

“The most common issue is that they were dropped or mishandled, and the varnish has come off and they’ve rusted or gone black in the spot where they were damaged,” Andrada said.

It’s not uncommon for medals to be passed around at post-Games parties and handled by hundreds. But this amount of damage is unusual.

Walsh Jennings, who won three golds in previous Olympics, says her medals tend to get beaten up because she doesn’t hesitate to let people touch them or try them on. But she won’t consider locking them up because people are inspired by them.

“They’ve offered to replace them. I’m not sure if I want to swap it out,” Walsh-Jennings told The Associated Press, adding the reason was “100 percent sentimental.”

USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said the organization reached out to its players and seven — three men and four women — reported they believe there is an issue with their medals.

Snyder, who wrestles for Ohio State, was 20 when he won his medal. He noticed an issue with the award the day…

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