Olympic volleyball player’s gold medal stolen in Anaheim

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At last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, the USA women’s volleyball team celebrated a historic victory over Brazil, winning gold medals for the first time.

Less than 10 months later, one of those gold medals went missing after it was stolen from Olympian Jordyn Poulter’s parked car in Anaheim, where the team trains.

For memory :

1:28 p.m. May 31, 2022An earlier version of the photo caption accompanying this post misidentified the athlete on the left as Jordan Thompson. She is Haleigh Washington.

She told police she parked the rental car in her garage on Wednesday afternoon and went inside to shower and get ready for a Zoom meeting, leaving the car unlocked and the door from the open garage.

When she returned later, she saw that someone had searched the car and taken the black shoulder bag that contained her passport, which she had left in the passenger seat. The center console, where she had left the gold medal, was open and empty.

“Obviously hindsight is 20/20,” Poulter said. “I really forgot it was in my car. As silly as it sounds, that’s the reality of the situation.

Poulter, a 24-year-old who plays setter, said her first reaction was to think sadly, “Why did I leave the garage open?”

Poulter said that for her, the medal not only represents the culmination of all the work she has put into the sport, but also the sacrifices of many others in building the women’s volleyball program to a peak. of success. And to have this precious artifact taken away by someone, she said, “is really a shame.”

She said she kept the medal with her to show her friends and family, or people she met who asked to see it.

“I’m so happy to share and show and let people hold and wear the medal whenever I can,” Poulter said.

She said she hopes whoever took the medal realizes that trying to pawn it would not be lucrative.

“It’s not pure gold, so if you try to melt it, it won’t get you very far,” Poulter said. told reporters Friday at the team’s training gym in Anaheim. “The interior is made of computer parts that are recycled and then plated. So it’s not worth much in that sense.

“It means a lot more to me than I think the monetary value would be,” she said.

Karch Kiraly, the coach of the Olympic team, said the gold medal could in theory be replaced, but it would be much easier if the person who took it “heartily” understood its importance and gave her back.

“There’s not a ton of value in that. And tremendous value is all she represents on this team,” Kiraly said. “The value is in the experience and the countless hours everyone puts in to help a team win one.”

If someone comes to Anaheim Police to return the medal, Kiraly said, there would be “no questions asked, no consequences.”

“We’re just crossing our fingers,” he said. “We remain hopeful.”

Kiraly pointed out that in another recent case, Paralympian Jen Yung Lee collected three gold medals after being ripped off in a car burglary in San Antonio.

Poulter, who grew up in Aurora, Colorado, said she hopes whoever took the medal gives it back.

She and other members of the Olympic team are set to travel to Shreveport, Louisiana, for a tournament where they and their families will attend a banquet on Thursday to celebrate their historic victory. She said she expects all the other players to bring their medals.

There is a way for an athlete who has a medal stolen to request a replacement from the International Olympic Committee, but it’s a long process, Poulter said.

“At the end of the day, if I received a replica medal, somewhere on that medal would be printed ‘REPLICA’ on it, and there wouldn’t be ‘Women’s Volleyball’ engraved on the bottom,” she said. “It’s definitely not the same as the original.”

The Anaheim Police Department is asking the public to get in touch with tips, photos or surveillance video footage. The robbery took place in the 1500 block of East Lincoln Avenue.

“Our big issue is we want to make sure Jordyn gets her medal back,” said Sgt. said Jacob Gallacher. “This medal represents many, many years of blood, sweat, tears and hard work, and it means a lot to her personally.”

Police are also checking pawnshops and websites where someone might try to sell the medal, Gallacher said. Anyone with information to share can contact the police or Orange County Crime Stopperswho accepts anonymous tips, at (855) 847-6227.

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