Anguished IMG sprinter hopes for return of Olympic gold medal

rdymond@bradenton.comSeptember 13, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Demetrius Pinder ran a record 43.4 quarter-mile leg in the 4X400 relay in the 2012 London Summer Olympics to help the Bahamas win the gold medal.

Had he seen the person or persons who took his Olympic gold medal from the center console of his 2011 Dodge Ram pickup truck around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, they would have had little chance of out-running him.

And there is no doubt they would have had to try.

"That medal means so much to me," a dejected Pinder, 24, said Thursday as he stood near his truck parked near his apartment in the gated Springs of Palma Sola in the 4600 block of 66th Street West.

It wasn't until Wednesday morning when Pinder realized the medal was gone and called the Bradenton Police Department.

"I can't say how much blood, tears and work went into it," Pinder said of the medal he hopes someone will return or Bradenton police will find. "It means everything to me. Yes, I can maybe pay to get another one. But it won't be the original. If someone has it, maybe they don't even know what it is. I would ask them to just tell me where it is. No questions asked."

Pinder grew up in the Bahamas and ran track at Texas A&M. He has been living in Bradenton the last four months training at IMG Academy.

He is preparing for coming international track meets, including the 2016 Olympics. He trains twice a day Monday, Wednesday and Friday and once a day Tuesday and Thursday. Sunday is his only off day.

His gold medal, which he says an International Olympic Committee official valued for him at $42,000, usually goes everywhere with him.

He doesn't have insurance on it.

He dedicated it to his sister, Claudette Joachim, 38, who died of a heart attack about two weeks before the Olympic Games.

"I usually take it with me when I leave the apartment," Pinder said.

Pinder said he left the hefty-to-hold medal in its case in the deep compartment in the center console of his truck.

He had come back from a restaurant Thursday and was in a hurry to put some food in the refrigerator and left the medal. But he is positive he locked the truck.

"The police told me that nowadays they can get into your vehicle with just a buzzer of some sort," Pinder said. "There was no broken window, nothing."

He was so upset about losing the medal he didn't realize until Thursday his wallet and iPad were also taken.

"We saw no forced entry on his vehicle," said Capt. William Fowler of the Bradenton Police Department.

Fowler said detectives are scouring local pawn shops.

Fingerprints were lifted from the Dodge Ram, Fowler said.

"It's hard to say where the medal could show up," Pinder said.

Pinder believes even though he keeps a low profile, someone was watching.

"I think someone saw that I have a few nice things," Pinder said. "I realize people sometimes are just out to get theirs, but this is different."

The medal is suspended from a purple lanyard with images representing the 2012 London Olympiad on both sides.

The medal also has 4x400m inscribed on the bottom portion of the front side, police said.

Anyone with information can call Bradenton Police Detective Dennis French at 941-932-9300, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Crime Stoppers (toll free) at 1-866-634-8477 (TIPS) or send an anonymous e-tip at manateecrimestoppers.com.

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