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Olympian’s thanks for medal found in rubbish heap

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ROME: An Olympic fencing champion whose Rio Games gold medal was stolen as he slept on a train was celebrating on Sunday after receiving news of its discovery by a stranger via a message on Facebook.

“I’m really happy! Even though I’d come to terms with losing the medal, it was like a part of me had been taken away,” said Daniele Garozzo, who won Olympic foil gold for Italy in Rio last summer.

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Garozzo was travelling by train to Turin to watch his favourite football team, Serie A champions Juventus, on October 29 when he awoke from a snooze to find the medal gone from his bag.

But Lady Luck – in the shape of a ‘Signora Mara’ – stepped in: the Turin-based woman found his medal among a heap of rubbish outside a train station in the northern city.

Luckily, she knew of the fencer and contacted him via the social media platform as he competed at a World Cup even in Tokyo on Saturday.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, he admitted, “I asked her to kindly send a photo of it first. Not that I didn’t trust her, but I really didn’t want to be let down.”

After elimination to British-born American Miles Chamley-Watson in the quarter-finals of his World Cup event, Garozzo opened his telephone to discover the good news.

“I owe her a huge thanks and would like to invite her and her family to a celebratory meal,” he said.

A friend of the fencer is looking after the medal until the 25-year-old athlete returns from competition.

Garozzo said, “I can’t wait to have it back.”

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