Australian swimming legend and Olympian John Konrads could scarcely believe when he was told that a gold and two bronze medals, which he won in the 1960 Rome Olympics and were stolen 24 years back, had been found in a shoe box.

Konrads was last week reunited with the Olympic medals that were stolen from his Brighton home in 1985 after they were listed for sale on eBay.

Detective Senior Constable Nick Uebergang said police were able to track down the Olympic medals, along with three gold medals won by Konrads at the 1958 Cardiff Empire Games, The Age reported.

The medal collection is estimated to be worth more than $100,000.

Uebergang said Konrads alerted police to the sale of the medals after a collector in the US contacted him to check if he knew about the online auction.

The medals were then traced to a woman living in Corio, in outer Geelong, who told police she had bought them at a garage sale in Queensland about 10 years ago.

She said she had paid $200 for a shoebox which contained 16 sporting medals belonging to Konrads, a stolen World War II medal and some less valuable coins.

The woman told police she believed the medals were fake and was surprised to learn they belonged to one of Australia’s sporting heroes.

Uebergang said: “He (Konrads) was thrilled and surprised that they had been recovered.

“He had given up all hope of ever getting them back, thinking they’d probably either been melted down or were with a collector and (that he) wasn’t likely to see them again in his lifetime.”

He was issued with replicas of his Olympic medals by the International Olympic Committee after the theft of the originals.

Konrads and his sister Isla were known as the Konrads Kids in the late 1950s and early 1960s when they broke dozen of world records, aged just 15 and 13 respectively.

Konrads went on to win gold in the 1500-metre freestyle in Rome. He represented Australia at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics.

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