An Olympic fencing champion whose Rio Games gold medal was stolen as he slept on a train was celebrating Sunday after receiving news of its discovery by a stranger via a message on Facebook.
“I’m really happy! Even though I’d come to terms with losing the medal, it was like a part of me had been taken away,” said Daniele Garozzo, who won Olympic foil gold for Italy in Rio last summer.
Garozzo was travelling by train to Turin to watch his favourite football team, Serie A champions Juventus, on October 29 when he awoke from a snooze to find the medal gone from his bag.
But Lady Luck -- in the shape of a ‘Signora Mara’ -- stepped in: the Turin-based woman found his medal among a heap of rubbish outside a train station in the northern city.
Luckily, she knew of the fencer and contacted him via the social media platform as he competed at a World Cup even in Tokyo on Saturday.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, he admitted: “I asked her to kindly send a photo of it first. Not that I didn’t trust her, but I really didn’t want to be let down.”
After elimination to British-born American Miles Chamley-Watson in the quarter-finals of his World Cup event, Garozzo opened his telephone to discover the good news.
“I owe her a huge thanks and would like to invite her and her family to a celebratory meal,” he said.
A friend of the fencer is looking after the medal until the 25-year-old athlete returns from competition.
Garozzo said: “I can’t wait to have it back.”
When trophies/medals were lost… and found
Jules Rimet Cup, the original World Cup trophy that Brazil won permanently in 1970 (replaced by the FIFA World Cup subsequently), was stolen just before the 1966 edition in England. It was found just seven days later wrapped in newspaper at the bottom of a suburban garden hedge in South London. It was stolen again from the office of the Brazil football confederation in 1983 and was never recovered.
American canoeist Joe Jacobi’s medal, that he won in 1992 Barcelona Games, was stolen from his car when he was eating at a local restaurant in Atlanta in April 2016. It was found by a seven-year-old girl in a trash can two weeks later and was restored to the rightful owner.
Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng lost his 2012-13 Champions League winner’s medal during celebrations. But got it a few hours later as Sports Illustrated journalist Nick Zaccardi stumbled across it amongst the confetti where the German international had held the trophy earlier that night.
German rower Horst Hoeck’s gold medal, won as part of a coxed four in 1932 Los Angeles Games, remained lost for decades. It was found after 60 years when the house in which he lived before the World War II, converted into a day care centre later, was being refurbished. The workers found a secret safe in a wall and the missing Olympic medal was in it.