When Tammy McLeod returned home from a four-hour training session last Friday “she just kind of had a funny feeling,” said her mother.
Papers were strewn across the floor of the London, Ont. apartment and the place looked amiss. Tammy’s first thought went to the bronze medal she and her boccia teammates won at the Parapan Am Games.
She checked the living room where she’d kept it handy to show off to friends and family since winning three weeks earlier.
“And of course, it was gone,” Brenda McLeod said.
Whoever broke into Tammy’s home dumped out a duffel bag full of sports equipment and loaded up some of the athlete’s most cherished possessions before taking off, Brenda said.
Along with the medal, a safe full of handkerchiefs and other mementos of her late grandmother, a commemorative coin given to London 2012 Paralympians by the Queen and an iPad full of photographs were also taken.
“Pretty disgusting isn’t it? I mean it’s got no monetary value to anyone else. No personal value. It’s just done to hurt,” Brenda said.
Tammy, 38, has been playing boccia for 24 years and counts the medal as her highest career achievement.
“All my medals that I’ve won over the years are special to me, but this one is special in its own way,” Tammy wrote in an email.
Her mother was at the Abilities Centre in Whitby the day her daughter won.
“Can’t describe it. The whole house erupted,” she said.
“There’s so many hours of hard work that go into training, physically, mentally, and then to be able to medal and especially on home soil in front of your fellow Canadians, it just made it that much more special.”
The Canadian Paralympic Committee has offered the make a replacement medal, Brenda said, but it wouldn’t be the same.
“It’s still not the original that was presented to you on a silver platter and placed around your neck,” she said through tears.
Since the theft Tammy has been “a little rough around the edges,” she said. “She’ll be fine,” she added. “She’s a very strong person.”
“It’s awful to have anything like this happen to anybody. But for someone in that situation ... I just can’t believe it. Somebody’s that cold hearted.”
London police don’t have any suspects or leads in the case, said Const. Ken Steeves. They are still working to determine how the apartment was entered and whether the suspect was someone Tammy knew.
“The whole situation is concerning. These are things that are very difficult to replace, if at all,” said Steeves.
“Often times with crimes, or even something as such high profile as this, people talk,” he said. “People talk and word spreads.”
He is encouraging anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
For Tammy and her mother, they hope word gets back to whoever took the precious items and sways them to do the right thing.
“If they have any remorse at all, just to please drop it off somewhere with a note,” Brenda said. “She just wants it back.”