2022 FALL PREMIER AUCTION

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Competitive canoe racing dates to 1869. At the 1936 Berlin Summer Games, Canoe Sprint made its Olympic debut and has been part of the official program ever since. Contested by individuals or teams of two, canoe races take place on flatwater covering four distances from 200 to 5000 meters. Athletes compete in a striding position with one knee on deck and the other foot forward using a single-blade paddle. Each discipline is categorized by boat type (Canoe or Kayak), competitors per boat, and distance. Hence, Men’s C-1 200m is the men’s single 200-meter canoe sprint. And from 2006 to 2016, no athlete dominated this event like Yuriy [Iurii] Cheban of Ukraine.

After making the semifinals at the 2004 Athens Olympics as an 18-year-old, Cheban took silver at the 2006 World Championships before winning gold at the 2007 Worlds. He then took bronze in the C-1 500m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at just 20 years old. Yuriy then won two more medals at the 2010 Worlds, setting up a storied run in the C-1 200m event. At the 2012 Summer Games in London, Cheban led the finals wire-to-wire to win gold. (Ironically, the silver medalist was Russian.) After winning gold at the 2014 Worlds in Moscow, the Ukrainian star repeated as Olympic champion at the 2016 Rio Games with a blistering time of 39.28 seconds to set a new Olympic record.

In this auction, we have the privilege of offering all three of Yuriy Cheban’s Olympic winner’s medals to the market for a very worthy cause. Presented here is his 2008 Beijing third place bronze medal. (See Lot 5 for his 2012 London gold and Lot 6 for his 2016 Rio gold.) It comes directly from Mr. Cheban who has decided to auction his most prized possessions and valiantly donate all proceeds to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, which directly funds his home country’s defense and recovery efforts. Rarely do winner’s medals from such recent Olympics hit the auction block so soon after being awarded. This is the just the second 2008 Summer Games winner’s medal we have ever handled, and fewer than ten gold, silver and bronze medals combined have been offered publicly. (The most recent 2008 comps are $89,423 for a pair of USA swimmer Ryan Lochte’s bronze medals.)

Measuring 70 mm in diameter and 6 mm thick, 2008 Beijing winner’s medals have a unique design using an ancient Chinese jade piece known as bi. On the obverse is the winged Goddess of Victory and the Panathinaikos Arena, with “XXIX OLYMPIAD BEIJING 2008” at the top. The reverse is inlaid with jade and has the Beijing Olympic Games emblem at center, with “CANOE/KAYAK” inscribed at the top and “Men’s C-1 500m” at the bottom rim. Each winner’s medal (whether gold, silver or bronze) comes with a red ribbon in the color of China’s flag with the 2008 Beijing logo and Olympic rings. This medal and its ribbon weigh 175 grams altogether. The medal hook is a transformation of huang, an ancient Chinese ceremonial jade piece decorated with a double dragon and reed mat pattern. A blending of traditional Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit, winner’s medals were meant to symbolize nobility and virtue, while giving its recipients great honor. The medal has a few dings on the edge but is otherwise in great overall shape and still presents beautifully.

Comes with a letter of provenance from Mr. Yuriy Cheban, canoe sprint legend!

About Olympic Circle: Charitable foundation “Olympic circle” is an organization created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv Mykolaiv (city in southern Ukraine on Black Sea coast) fight Russian occupants. We have three months of experience working during this war. Now we have united the efforts of volunteers in “Olympic circle” because, being sportsmen, we understand that only teamwork will be successful. We are people of Mykolaiv who love their city. Every morning we wake up with the same thought as you – when will the war end? Then we do the same as any Ukrainian – we fight for Victory! https://olympiccircle.netlify.app/#goal

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