The medal, awarded to an American canoeist at the '92 games, was stolen from a car two weeks before
While the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is well worn at this stage, it proved true for an American Olympian. Last week, six-year-old Chloe Smith found part of a stolen gold medal awarded at the 1992 Barcelona games thrown away in a pile of rubbish in Atlanta, Georgia.
Nestled between discarded clothes and scraps of wood, Smith spotted the gold medal while out walking with her father Wayne. “When she picked it up it just wowed me. I had to look at it for 20 minutes before it sunk in,” her father told a TV news crew in Columbus, Georgia.
The medal belongs to American Olympian Joe Jacobi, who won it when he claimed the top spot in the slalom canoe event in the Catalonia city 24 years ago. The medal had been left inside a bag in Jacobi’s parked car when it was broken into while he and his family were eating at a nearby restaurant. Among a number of items taken by the thieves was the irreplaceable gold medal – the only one won by an American athlete in the history of the Summer Olympics.
Jacobi took to social media to appeal for members of the public to be on the lookout for the medal, also hoping the thieves would be moved by what it represents and return it to him. Some of the items stolen from Jacobi were later recovered in an apartment complex, but the medal was not among them.
An image of Jacobi's medal posted to social media, showing the base and ribbon it was taken with [YouTube]
Weeks later, Chloe happened upon the piece of gold, not fully understanding its value. Her father told media that he only noticed what she was holding when she started tossing it around like a Frisbee. When he examined it, he recognised that it was part of Jacobi’s prize, although it is still missing its ribbon and the base in which the gold medal sits.
After reading the Smith family’s email, Jacobi rushed from his Tennessee home back to Atlanta to reclaim his medal, giving Chloe a $500-reward to thank her for finding it. He also promised to come and speak at her school – and to always carry the medal on his person in the future.
“We get to take the medal and move forward and do what we’ve always done with it – share it with people. And it has a new story to add to the old one,” Jacobi said.