Ruben Limardo: Olympic fencing champion and food delivery person

Ruben Limardo after winning the Pan American Games at Lima 2019.
Ruben Limardo after winning the Pan American Games at Lima 2019.

Away from the glitz and glamour of the Olympic Games, dozens of athletes subsidise their sports career by having other jobs. From farming to banking, Tokyo 2020 looks at several hopefuls aiming to make an impact next summer and what roles they have outside of competition. This week, we introduce the London 2012 gold medallist who makes a living by delivering food. 

The deets

  • Name: Ruben Limardo
  • Age: 35
  • Country: Venezuela
  • Sport: Fencing

His athlete life

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

It’s a feat he is aiming to repeat at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. "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 told Tokyo 2020 in August.

For now, 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.

In the final bout in Lima, he beat his brother Jesús. But Limardo is also aiming to win another Olympic medal alongside his two brothers - this time in the team event.

"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 explained.

Limardo has lived in Poland for the past 19 years and has continued to train there in preparation for next year’s Olympic fencing competition that will take place in the Mukuhari Messe on 24 of July 2021.

Finals - Men's Epee | London 2012 Replays
01:35:26

This event took place on 01/08/2012 at the ExCeL, London. Rubén Limardo (VEN) claimed the gold medal.

His professional life

Even though he is a sporting icon, Limardo has needed to find ways outside of sport to provide for his family.

The Olympic Champion is married with two children. After the outbreak of COVID-19 he went months without seeing his family who remained in his native Venezuela. His greatest desire was to have them close to him in Poland while he trained for the Olympics - something he finally achieved.

But economical factors now mean Limardo has needed to find a new way to make money. So for the last seven weeks, he has been working as a food delivery person. "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 a new interview with Tokyo 2020.

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

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

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.”

This job motivates me because it teaches me to keep on fighting, to keep holding on and to move forward.

Every time I step on the pedal I get closer to winning a medal in Tokyo.

Limardo explained that he 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.

"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,” continued Limardo.

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.

Why Olympic Champion Rubén Limardo is loving life as a food delivery rider
03:00

"I never imagined it, but given the situation of crisis, it was the best solution for me." Fencing gold medalist Rubén Limardo from Venezuela embraced change and took up his job delivering takeaway and fast food as a way to earn some money during the coronavirus pandemic. He quickly learnt that the role fit like a glove. At London 2012, Limardo became only the second Venezuelan to clinch an Olympic gold and told us he plans to repeat the success at the Tokyo Games in 2021, no matter the circumstances: "Every turn of the pedal gives me the strength to reach the goal."