"I'm not going to give up": the Venezuelan Olympic gold medalist Rubén Limardo, at 36, hopes to gain momentum towards his fifth Olympic Games, Paris-2024, after rediscovering his "best version" by winning a gold medal in the fencing World Cup circuit.
Olympic champion in the individual epee in London-2012, Limardo won the Bern Grand Prix on Saturday and made it very clear that he was serious when he said that retirement did not cross his mind after being quickly eliminated in Tokyo-2020.
"I'm really happy to win a World Cup again," this tireless swordsman told AFP, who in the past Olympic Games was out of the race for the podium after being defeated in his first fight by Frenchman Romain Cannone. that in the end he would end up with the gold medal.
“I'm working very hard after what happened in Tokyo (…). It already happened, it hurt a lot, but I do fencing because I love doing it and I'm going to continue ».
Cannone this time looked down at him.
While the Latin American hung his first gold medal in a World Cup since 2013, another Frenchman, Alexandre Bardenet, took the silver medal and Cannone and the Italian Andrea Santarelli with the two bronze ones.
“Fencing is like that. Today you win and tomorrow I win ”, celebrated Limardo, who relates that just 15 days after the disappointment of Tokyo-2020 he began to prepare for his next goals. «I haven't stopped training. We are making a new physical preparation scheme, so that the teachers (the coaches) can just dedicate themselves to improving my fencing ».
He works in Lodz, about 120 km from Warsaw, which has been a fencing school in Venezuela since the late mother of this athlete, Noris, and his uncle and coach, Ruperto Gascón, launched a project to help young athletes in the Caribbean country. get ready there. The initiative was the cradle of the foundation the former Olympic champion maintains with the same objective.
Limardo felt over the weekend being close to his "best version" as he progressed to gold: "I felt like I had brutal confidence in the competition. I felt like number one ».
«It was a completely different Rubén Limardo (from Tokyo-2020), I did not despair very little. When something did not work, I did not insist, but I adapted. Before, when things didn't work out, I would go crazy looking for combat. Now I had the pleasure of thinking more », explained the veteran athlete.
This without losing aggressiveness. "I saw myself strong, fast, many people asked the teacher (Gascón) how could we have such aggressive fencing at 36 years old".
Therefore, he has faith in the plan drawn up by his coach. «If the teacher tells me to jump out of the window, I'll throw myself. There can be no doubt in my head, ”said the fencer, who finds inspiration in front of those who consider him finished: the Hungarian Gesa Imre, who was world champion in 2015 and Olympic runner-up in Rio-2016 having passed 40.
Only four athletes from Venezuela have won Olympic golds: the boxer Francisco 'Morochito' Rodríguez in Mexico-1968, the taekwondo player Arlindo Gouveia in Barcelona-1992, Limardo in London-2012 and the athlete Yulimar Rojas in Tokyo-2020. The Gouveia medal did not receive official recognition until 2018, since in 1992 taekwondo was an exhibition discipline.
«You can count on me (in Paris-2024). I'm not going to give up, ”Limardo warns.