Thousands of Venezuelans turned out on Monday to welcome home Ruben Limardo after he won the gold medal in fencing at the London Olympic Games, the country’s first Olympic medal since 1968.
“In the future, we’ll be a great world power. We’ve shown that, yes, an Olympic medal can be won and for Brazil 2016 we’re going to seek another one. Long live all the people of Venezuela!” exclaimed the medalist at Maiquetia international airport after he disembarked from the aircraft that brought him back across the Atlantic.
Dressed informally and draped with a large Venezuelan flag, Limardo was visibly moved at the reception.
Relatives, friends, fans and even members of the government such as Sports Minister Hector Rodriguez were on hand to welcome the athlete at the airport, where they chanted his name and cheered both him and his historic achievement.
One of the most emotional moments at the welcoming ceremony was the encounter between the 26-year-old fencer and Venezuela’s other gold medalist, boxer Carlos “Morochito” Hernandez, who greeted him with a big hug.
“I never imagined that you were going to welcome me like this,” Limardo remarked to reporters without being able to hold back his tears.
On Aug. 1, Limardo won the gold in the men’s individual epee by defeating Norway’s Bartosz Piasecki 15-10 in a brilliant final match.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared Limardo a “national hero” and announced that he will present him with a replica of the sword carried by Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan liberator of much of Latin America from Spanish rule.