Israel's first and only Olympic gold medal was stolen yesterday when thieves broke into the home of windsurfer Gal Fridman's parents and ripped out a wall safe that contained his trophy from last summer's Athens Games, as well as his bronze medal from the Atlanta Olympics.
Speaking after the break-in, Fridman called on the robbers to return the medals. "As far as I'm concerned, the medals were the most precious thing in the vault. I hope that they [the burglars] will find a way to return them," he said.
"I'm still Olympic champion," he added. "No matter what they do, they can't take that away from me," he told Israel TV. "But it clearly still hurts. (The medals) have a lot of sentimental value, and are very special to me."
The chairman of the Olympic Committee of Israel (OCI), Efraim Zinger, also called upon the robbers to return the medals to their rightful owner, saying they "have national value for the people of Israel."
Fridman discovered the theft when he went to his parents' home in Karkur yesterday morning. He apparently walked into the home while the thieves were still there. Only when his mother returned home and they went up to the second floor did they see that the safe had been ripped out of the wall.
The OCI has already asked the International Olympic Committee whether a new set of medals can be issued should police fail to find the originals.