Going for gold in the Sochi Winter Olympics could earn athletes some out-of-this-world rocks.
Athletes who top the podium on Feb. 15, 2014 will receive special medals with pieces of the Chelyabinsk meteor that broke up over the remote Russian community on that day in 2013, according to media reports.
“We will hand out our medals to all the athletes who will win gold on that day, because both the meteorite strike and the Olympic Games are the global events,” stated Chelyabinsk Region Culture Minister Alexei Betekhtin in a Ria Novosti report.
The reported sports that will receive these medals include:
- Women’s 1,000 meter and men’s 1,500 meter short track;
- Men’s skeleton;
- Women’s cross-country skiing relay;
- Men’s K-125 ski jump;
- Men’s 1,500 meter speed skating;
- Women’s super giant slalom.
The 55-foot (17-meter) meteor’s airburst in February damaged buildings, causing injuries and fright among those in the region. As astronomers have been collecting fragments and calculating the orbit of the fireball, the incident put renewed attention on the need to monitor space rocks that could threaten the Earth.
Check out this Universe Today collection of videos showing what the meteor looked like.