THIS is the moment an Olympic rower was given the chance to relive his memories of winning a bronze medal at London 2012.
Alex Partridge, of Park Road, Henley, had his medal stolen along with his jacket and pin badges from previous Games at a bar in Mayfair last October.
It was never found but the British Olympic Association have provided a replica medal.
Partridge, 32, who has one child and another one on the way, said: “It’s not the real one but at least it’s something to show the kids.
“It’s still annoying that it’s out there somewhere, maybe in a bush or at the bottom of the Thames, but it’s great to have this because when you speak to schools I have something to show because they only really care about seeing the medal.
“I’m glad I have something back but I just want to put the whole thing behind me now.”
The Leander athlete, who competed in the men’s eight, had been celebrating after a Buckingham Palace reception for the Olympic athletes when he realised the GB team jacket was missing.
Hockey player Hannah Macleod had her bronze medal stolen on the same night but that has since been returned
The replacement medal is the same as the original but it has “replica” stamped in small letters on the front and is missing the inscription of “men’s eight rowing”, although Partridge is hoping to have it engraved in the future.
He said: “I really appreciate what the association has done and it’s massive for me but it’s tinged when you see ‘replica’ written on it. But I guess it’s unique. It will stay in the box and I won’t be taking it anywhere out with me. I’m guarding it with my life. It’s funny but once you have one it stays in the corner away — it’s not something you put on the wall.”
Partridge, who also won silver at Beijing 2008, said the medal had helped reignite memories of his experience at London 2012.
He said: “I used to see the medal as not really important because it’s about the journey but I tell you what, when the medal goes you realise it is important.
“It’s only when you lose it that you realise ‘I wish I had that’. But the experience is still more important. I will always remember the crowd at 1,000m for the rest of my life.
“Also, when the men’s eight and women’s pairs walked into Dorney Lake at 6am on the day after the ceremony, which we hadn’t seen, and there were about 300 Gamesmakers who gave us a standing ovation as we walked down this plain.
“That’s what made it feel like the home Games. I will remember those things for the rest of my life and that’s what I’ll tell my grandchildren and children about.”
“I watched some footage of the Olympics the other night for the first time in ages and it brought back the incredible memories but also the frustration because we didn’t achieve what we wanted to do.”
Partridge believes the medal acts as a token for those memories and recognises its importance to Leander Club, whose members have now claimed 111 medals.
He said: “There’s a golden medal in Leander from 1908 and in 20 or 30 years time from now the medals from the London Olympics will still be remembered.
“They will be the legacy in the club as well as for my children and grandchildren. No one else in my family has one and it shows that maybe I’ve done something different.”
Partridge is now taking time away from rowing before deciding whether he will return. He is currently taking a Masters of Business at Henley Business School and is applying for jobs.
He is also planning to attempt an extreme triathlon that involves climbing a peak in the Karakoram range in Pakistan, a race in the 180km Haute Route between France and Switzerland and a 118-mile row in Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia.
“I thought ‘can I do this for another four years?’ but that’s a long way away from my mind at the moment,” he said.
“It’s the first time in about 16 years that I haven’t had six months of rowing. The most time off would have been about two months. My body feels like it’s refreshing.”