CURLING star Rhona Martin has told of her heartbreak at the theft of her Olympic gold medal during a break-in at a museum.
The skipper of Britain’s triumphant team at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics said she was “absolutely gutted” to discover her medal was missing after thieves targeted an exhibition of curling memorabilia.
The Ayrshire player, 47, pleaded for the return of her most treasured possession, which she had allowed to go on display for the first time since the nation cheered her to victory in 2002.
Also taken from the Dumfries Museum was another Scottish Olympic gold, won in 1924, by father-and-son Willie and Laurence Jackson, the skipper and lead of the victorious men’s curling team.
A number of other curling club medals were also seized in the raid at Dumfries Museum, which had staged the exhibition to coincide with the World Senior and Mixed Doubles Championships in the town last month.
The raiders struck shortly after the end of the competition just after 10pm on Wednesday, with their haul said to be worth around £34,000. It also included a silver gilt casket and the historic provost’s chain of the Burgh of Maxwelltown.
Ms Martin, who is head coach for women’s curling at the Institute of Sport in Stirling, told The Scotsman: “I heard what happened just after I’d been giving a speech about leadership at a conference in Harrogate and I’d actually shown the footage of us winning in Salt Lake City.
“I just feel absolutely gutted. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve taken the medal out with me to various events and schools. It brings people so much happiness, and I can’t believe I’ll never see it again.
“I don’t know what it’s worth, but it’s clearly of huge sentimental value to me and I can only hope that I get it back.”
Bruce Crawford, chief operating officer of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the sport’s governing body in Scotland, had helped organise the exhibition with Dumfries Museum and told The Scotsman: “Everyone is just in an absolute state of shock that anybody would have the audacity to steal these things. We did all the appropriate checks to ensure what security measures would be in place, not for a minute thinking something like this would happen.”
David Lockwood, Dumfries & Galloway Council’s museums manager, said: “We’re all very disappointed that the museum’s been targeted. The museum has a full inventory of all items so we can tell that a number of very rare artefacts have been stolen.”
Police Scotland are keen to trace three individuals in dark clothing who were seen in the area around the museum at the time of the theft. Chief inspector Steven Lowther said: “We hope that someone may have some information on the location of these items. If they do, we would urge them to contact us.
“We are keen to trace the three individuals seen running away from the museum around this time. It is believed they were last seen running on Rotchell Road in the direction of Park Farm.”