Family hopes for return of medal

The bronze medal Peter Hrdlitschka won at the 1973 World Aquatic Championships was stolen

It’s a symbol of hard work, sacrifice, effort, commitment, achievement and pride.

It’s a family keepsake.

The bronze medal Vernon native Peter Hrdlitschka won at the 1973 World Aquatic Championships was among the items stolen from his parents’ Coldstream house Aug. 31.

“They took the bronze medal, all of (wife) Doris’ jewelry, a 1972 Olympic silver coin collection and a couple of watches, including one that was still in the box,” said Frank Hrdlitschka, Peter’s father.

The Hrdlitschkas had been in Vancouver to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary when the theft occurred.

The culprits forced their way into the home. A family relative discovered the theft and broke the news to the Hrdlitschkas, who were devastated by not only the theft, but what was stolen.

“It hits you hard,” said Hrdlitschka, who came to Canada from Germany in 1956, arriving in Ocean Falls, B.C., before moving to Vernon in 1965.

Frank, a baker, and Doris, a personal loans officer, took their sons Peter and Mike to swimming practice at the Vernon Recreation Complex at 5 a.m. every morning.

Both boys won lots of ribbons and medals swimming, all proudly displayed in the family home to this day.

In 1972, Peter came fourth in Olympic trials, joined the Canadian national swim team and left home at 16 to move Vancouver to train with the Dolphins Swim Club.

A year later, at the 1973 World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade, Yugoslavia,  Hrdlitschka won bronze in the 4×100 metre medley relay that included Bruce Robertson, Ian Mackenzie and Brian Phillips.

“The medal, along with their keepsakes and jewelry, will likely show up in pawn shops,” said the Hrdlitschka’s daughter-in-law, Sharon.

“We hope someone doesn’t buy it, but question why on earth would someone sell this. Hopefully they see this story and return this precious medal back to Frank and Doris.”

Anybody with any information on the theft is asked to call the  RCMP at 250-545-7171.