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Antiques Roadshow guests flock to various locations across the country to speak with experts about the stories behind their priceless relics. Although many believe their beloved treasures could cost more than they expected, their reactions to the actual values of the pieces provide memorable reactions. There was one proud granddaughter in a recent episode of the hit BBC One programme who refused to accept what she was being told however, when a collection of Olympic medals she had brought along racked up a staggering price.
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The expert on hand for this particular collection was Adam Schoon, who spoke with Julia, the granddaughter of Olympic swimmer, Lucy Morton.
Back in 1924, the latter represented the UK in the Paris Olympics and won several medals, as well as a gold for the breast-stroke 200 metres.
Speaking about her beloved relative, the guest said: “She started swimming when she was about age 10. What happened was her dad said you’re too much of a dunst at school, don’t seem to be doing very well and he decided well, let’s try swimming.
“Everytime I went to go and see her for Afternoon tea she said, ‘Julia, how well are you doing with your swimming?’ and I would go, ‘Not very well.'”
But not even Julia could have expected the valuation the expert was willing to estimate the collection was worth.
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Adam said looking at the collection of medals in front of him and was amazed as he said: “It’s covered in gold medals.
“I notice there are a number of medallions which she would have won for, I presume, county races and national races.”
Analysing the medals a little closer, the expert added: “She’s setting world records. All of these are 15 carat gold.
“But of course, all these smaller medals build up to the [Olympic medal],” he continued as Julia then spoke more about the history of her grandmother’s rise to stardom in 1924.
The guest explained: “In 1923, they became very interested in her and they asked her to start swimming in preparation for the 1924 Paris Olympics.
“She wasn’t expected to win or anything,” she added, as another country was expected to take gold, but Julia continued: “Unfortunately, some of the Americans had got some sort of bug, from what I heard.
“She made the final race in breaststroke 200 metres and everyone was apparently cheering to the end and she had a chaperone and the chaperone said, ‘You’ve won.’
“They pulled her out the pool, put her bathrobe on and she was actually the first female swimmer to win a gold medal in swimming for Great Britain.”
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What? For one medal?
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“They had expected the Americans to win, so when the medal ceremony happened, they only managed to find a little flag and then a large American flag for the second place and they didn’t really have a medal ceremony because they also didn’t have the national anthem,” Julia said.
“I’m really proud of her. At that age and at that time, females weren’t doing anything like that,” the proud granddaughter continued.
Adam agreed the guest should feel proud as he branded Olympic swimmer Lucy as an “incredible woman”.
Turning his attention back to the medal collection, the expert explained: “It is gold but it’s made of silver – it’s a silver guild. But it was designed in Paris and it was made at the Paris mint and there were only 304 made.”
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The guest said of Lucy to add a bit more context: “When she stopped swimming from the age of 27, the swimming association asked her to start coaching for the Olympic team and also chaparoing other swimmers across the country. She just loved it, it was her life.”
Thinking more about the valuation, Adam told Julia the gold medal itself was worth £15,000, which she refused to accept.
Startled by the valuation, the guest exclaimed: “What? For one medal?”
“Just for that, yeah and you’ve got all these gold medals and more here – another £15,000,” the expert continued, before concluding: “Altogether, it just adds up to the most extraordinary record for the most incredible woman.”
Antiques Roadshow continues Sunday at 8:15pm on BBC One.
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