Airport thief steals Pinsent's gold medal

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The Independent Online

Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent had his gold medal stolen today.

Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent had his gold medal stolen today.

But he was only parted from it a matter of hours before it was 'found' and handed to a taxi driver.

Fellow gold medallist Steve Redgrave confirmed that the medal had been taken as Pinsent was having a coffee with his girlfriend at Heathrow Airport this morning.

The medal was in a leather briefcase by his side along with a number of other personal belongings, Redgrave said.

Shortly afterwards, Pinsent's agent Roxanne Still said: "He is absolutely distraught, and completely beside himself.

"The medal was in his bag and he put it down momentarily. Somebody just grabbed it."

She said Pinsent only took his eyes off the soft leather Timberland bag for a couple of seconds.

He had been at Heathrow's Terminal 4 to greet girlfriend Demetra Koutsoukos, who was flying back from Australia via Toronto.

Before the medal was recovered, Mr Pinsent told London radio station LBC that his briefcase was stolen while he and his girlfriend enjoyed a coffee after he picked her up from Heathrow.

"I didn't cry when I got the medal but I've had more than a few cries in the last couple of hours," he said.

"My girlfriend was coming back from the Olympics at a different time from me and I went to pick her up. During the 30 minutes we were at the airport the briefcase was stolen.

"We went for a cappuccino on the top floor of the departures building. All of a sudden I looked at her and she looked at me and said 'Where's the briefcase?"'

The theft had not extinguished the pride he felt in his achievement at Sydney, he added.

"I'm amazingly proud of what I've done. It doesn't change what we achieved 10 days ago. It isn't the medal that counts."

Redgrave said: "He rang me this morning from the airport and I have never heard him so low.

"He was just lost for words and could not believe what had happened. He said 'I'm just blown away'."