Feature | Fencing

Ruben Limardo: Olympic fencing champion and food delivery bike rider

Meet the London 2012 gold medallist from Venezuela who makes a living delivering food by bicycle in Poland

By Marta Martin ·

Ruben Limardo became a Venezuelan legend when he won the country's second-ever Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Despite the sporting fame, the fencing icon needed to find new ways to provide for his family following the coronavirus outbreak and difficult financial situation in his home.

His wife and two children were in Venezuela at the outbreak of Covid-19, while Limardo was in Poland, where he has lived and trained for 19 years. They went months without seeing each other, until an unusual career switch helped the 35-year-old bring his family to Europe.

For the last seven weeks, he has been working as a food delivery rider. "Due to COVID-19, bringing my family to Europe was really hard and I needed to not waste money but produce it,” he explained in an interview with Tokyo 2020.

Why Olympic Champion Rubén Limardo is loving life as a food delivery rider

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Riding to Tokyo

It's a job that Limardo has decided to continue, as he prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"I found a job that doesn't affect my training because I can have the schedule I need." he said.

"Of course, when I have a day with a lot of training I work less delivering food, but somehow I manage to do both. I am an athlete, so I always have the energy to do more,” - Ruben Limardo

For now, the combination of fencing, family life and work hasn’t led to him losing motivation or missing any training sessions.

He can even see the positive side of the situation: “I use a lot of energy and am very tired, but it also helps me. As the job involves riding a bicycle, I keep moving and preparing my body - so that helps. I have strengthened my legs and, as an athlete, that helps me a lot.”

Limardo doesn’t see this job as something he will do forever. “I know this won’t go on for a long time, as I’m doing it because of the situation the world is now facing. Maybe next year everything will be better, the situation will be solved and I can work towards Tokyo 2020 more calmly.

“I am still doing it, but this job motivates me even more because it teaches me to keep on fighting, to keep holding on and to move forward." continued Limardo.

"Every time I step on the pedal I get closer to winning a medal in Tokyo. It is an extra motivation but the only thing that is relevant to me is winning a medal in Tokyo,” - Ruben Limardo

"That’s my dream: to win an Olympic medal with my brothers. I don’t care about the colour. The important thing for me is to win a medal as a family," he told Tokyo 2020 in August.

"In the men’s épée nobody from Venezuela has ever won at two Olympic Games. I am fighting to be that person. That’s what keeps me fighting,"

He’s doing everything possible to achieve that goal, including winning the Lima 2019 Pan American Games - a victory that booked his ticket to the Olympics. He also won a silver medal in the individual épée at the 2018 World Championships - repeating the 2nd place finish he achieved in 2013.

Limardo’s goal remains the same as it was before he was delivering food and even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic - to shine once again at the Olympic Games.

The fact his new job is helping him to achieve that goal makes it even better.

Meet Ruben Limardo

20 years of training for the ultimate goal: to win gold in London 2012