First let me introduce myself, my name is G1. I was the first Gold Medal won by my owner Carol Cooke in the Time Trial at the Rio Paralympics. My brother G2 was born after me when Carol won the Road Race two days later. It has been an amazing time for Carol, to go back to back in the Time Trial and then win the Road Race was something that she never dreamed would be possible.
Upon arriving home in Melbourne, Carol has taken us to all the talks and events that she has been to and passed us around so that others could share in her success. We don’t mind being passed around amongst people because they always seem to love us and besides it sure beats sitting in a wood box all day, every day!
On the 26th of October Carol told us that she had to do some filming with Monash University that day and needed us to be involved. But because she had to train first she placed us in her Paralympic Team backpack. (We found out pretty quickly upon our arrival in Melbourne that training is usually in the early hours of the morning and we had gotten used to that) So along with all her clothes, cycling gear, gym gear, toiletries, wallet and our friend ‘Tom’ (Paralympic mascot) we got packed for the day ahead. Carol had to meet other riders at 6am that day so as usual she parked out front of the Victorian Institute of Sport in Albert Park to ride from there and then come back for a gym session. Now Carol didn’t have her normal car as it had been written off in an accident before Rio so was using a borrowed car with no boot. So she did what smart people would do in that circumstance and she hid the backpack in the front passenger footwell of the car before we arrived at the VIS. The one thing she did do wrong was to then put her coat over the bag after she had parked. That is where it all went wrong, someone had been watching!
Carol rode away to meet up with her cycling mates and all of a sudden from the bottom of her bag I heard the sound of smashing glass. G2 and I had been sound asleep and awoke with a fright. The next thing I knew the bag we were in was being swung through the air and pulled through the window. I knew it wasn’t Carol as she would never be so rough with us and after a few moments we came down to earth with a thud as we were thrown on the seat of another car. At one point someone was rummaging through the bag we were in and I was hoping that he wouldn’t find us. He was pulling things out and throwing stuff around the car, he’d found Carol’s wallet. The car took off and at that point I had no idea what our future would hold.
The next few hours were amazing and time seemed to stand still, were we ever going to get out of the predicament we found ourselves in? We ended up in an area of the city we had never been to before and I didn’t think we would ever get home.
Then the unthinkable happened…he found us. I think he was just as surprised as us when we were being pulled from Carol’s car. I don’t think he knew what to think when he found us. The next thing I knew was that we were now being passed off to someone else. Once they worked out how to open the boxes we were passed around to a number of people and then eventually put back in our boxes minus our lapel pins and info sheets, but at least we were back in our homes where we belonged.
After a number of days, which seemed like forever we were then put into another bag all by ourselves, covered with other items, really bad things and we didn’t know what was going to happen. A gun, some drugs and cash were put in with us along with some of Carol’s credit cards and id, then the bag was zipped up.
Once again we were lifted into the air and we were on another journey. It wasn’t very long before we were put down again in a very dark and silent place and whoever had brought us to this place left us there. Not too much time had gone by and we were picked up again, taken outside and then again passed over to someone else. That’s when the zip on the bag was opened….ahh fresh air! We were so excited to find that we were in the hands of the police and taken to the Faulkner Police Station where we met Detective Senior Constable Joe Hartwig.
We were so excited….we were going home! We heard Detective Joe talking to Carol and realised that it was going to be a few more days before we were reunited as there was an investigation that had to take place in order to find out who had put us into that dark and silent place.
We found out that the police had executed a search warrant at a house, found some more stolen property and had arrested 4 people of which 2 of them were charged in relation to having us! Then today was the most exciting day ever when Detective Joe handed us back to Carol. She looked so happy to have us back and we were certainly happy to be heading home with her. We are very excited that we will be able to continue our journey with Carol as she talks to people around the country.
It’s great to be home and we are very grateful that we weren’t hurt in the last 3 weeks. Although it was scary, it is an adventure that not many of our colleagues will ever have! Carol told us about everyone helping out in the search for us, from the tweets and Facebook posts, to the police in South Melbourne and the good samaritan who found us and then Detective Joe and his colleagues who investigated the circumstances, so thank you from both G2 and myself! We are now home and celebrating our return!