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Windsurfer Gal Fridman yesterday received his stolen Olympic gold medal back, after it was found on Friday.

"I believed I'd get the medal back, but didn't believe it would be so soon," Fridman said.

The medal was stolen on Tuesday last week by burglars who broke into the home of Fridman's parents.

The thieves took a safe that contained, among other things, the athlete's two Olympic medals: Israel's first-ever gold from the 2004 Athens games and a bronze medal won in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

A 7-year-old girl from the village of Fureidis, near Haifa, found the medal while walking with her family in a forest next to her village on Friday afternoon.

The girl's family was planning to have a barbeque in the Ofer forest near the village.

The girl was playing among the trees when her foot was entangled by a blue ribbon. She tugged on it and pulled a heavy medal from the ground.

Jamil Briya, a reporter for Israel Radio's channel in Arabic and a friend of the family, said the child brought the medal to her father, who was not aware of the burglary. However, a few hours later, he showed the medal to a neighbor in the village who recognized it immediately. They called the police at about 10 P.M.

The girl's father later returned to the forest with police and found several more items that had been stolen from the safe.