There will be an extra “first” to celebrate when Team GB wins gold at the 2012 Games this summer – every time one of our sportsmen and women picks up a top medal, a stamp commemorating their Olympian feat will be issued by Royal Mail the next day.
Wherever possible, the image on the stamp will be a photograph of the Team GB athlete or team in action from their gold-winning final.
It will be the first time a host country has used action shots for Olympic gold medal stamps and issued them immediately. It will also be the first time Royal Mail has issued next-day stamps.
These will be on sale at 500 post offices across the UK, as well as on the Royal Mail website, by lunchtime the day after a Team GB win. They will then be distributed a further three times during the Games, to an additional 4,500 post offices throughout the country.
The special stamps were unveiled on Tuesday, May 22 by Sally Gunnell OBE, an Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. At the most recent Games, Beijing 2008, Team GB lifted 19 gold medals.
Moya Greene, Royal Mail’s chief executive, said the special stamps would be “unique souvenirs” of the 2012 Games.
“Royal Mail is proud to be involved in this once-in-a-lifetime event and to recognise the success of Team GB. Our gold medal stamps…will be a special way for people across the country to celebrate Team GB’s gold medal wins and help mark their amazing achievement.”
Where it is not possible to use a photograph of the Team GB athlete or team in action from their gold medal-winning final, the image will be taken from their journey to get there – from a heat or their moment on the podium.
As soon as a gold medal is in the bag, Royal Mail’s team of picture editors, graphic designers, printers and drivers will swing into action, working round-the-clock to ensure the commemorative stamps are on sale by lunchtime the next day – even if the medal isn’t won until late the previous evening.
Many of the selected 500 post offices will be open on Sundays during the Games – another first – so fans can buy the souvenir stamps.
When London last hosted the Olympics, in 1948, Royal Mail issued four stamps bearing the five Olympic rings.
Royal Mail will also be the first postal administration from a host country to issue a set of stamps to mark the start of the Paralympic Games on August 29.