MELBOURNE: An Olympic gold medal won by Australian swimming legend John Konrads in 1960 has been returned to its rightful owner 25 years after it was stolen, police said on Tuesday.
The 1500 metre freestyle medal from the Rome Olympics and 15 other medals, taken from Konrads’ Melbourne home in 1984, were found after a woman tried to sell them on the Internet to a US sports enthusiast, police said.
They said the US collector contacted Konrads to check if he was aware of the sale and the swimmer then called police, who seized the medals in the regional city of Geelong before they were shipped overseas.
The woman told police that
she bought the medals 10 years ago at a bric-a-brac sale in Brisbane and thought they were fakes with little or no value.
Melbourne’s Age newspaper reported the medals were worth more than $86,000.
Detective senior constable Nick Uebergang said Konrads was “thrilled” at the medals’ return, thinking they had long ago been melted down or disappeared onto the black market. “He believed he was never going to see them again,” Uebergang said.
Police said they did not expect to lay any charges following the retrieval of the medals, which will now go on display at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne. The International Olympic Committee created replicas of the stolen medals for Konrads after the theft, which he later sold.
Konrads, 67, was a swimming prodigy who broke every freestyle world record from 200 metres to 1,500 metres by the time he was 15, going on to win gold medal in the 1500 metres in Rome, as well as bronze medal in the 400m and the 4X200m relay.