Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez bestowed the Order of the Liberators on the country's Olympic fencing champion, Ruben Limardo, and presented him with a replica of the sword of South American liberator Simon Bolivar.
"It's an honor for me to have decorated in the name of all the Venezuelan people our Olympic champion Ruben Limardo with the Order of the Liberators of Venezuela," said Chavez at a public ceremony in the Teresa Carreño Theater.
Chavez emphasized that Bolivar was a "great fencer who fought with the left and the right (hand)."
"There is nobody more worthy to receive this replica, the gold sword of Bolivar, than the gold medalist, this champion of the sword. From the sword of Bolivar to the gold sword of Ruben Limardo," said the Venezuelan president when he revealed that he had already signed a decree declaring Limardo a "national hero."
Limardo, who won Venezuela's first gold Olympic medal in 44 years at the London Games, received with great emotion the recognition accompanied by his uncle and coach Ruperto, his father Francisco, two siblings, his grandmother and his girlfriend.
"I really feel very proud to be Venezuelan. I have said it since I was very small, this medal is worth 20 years of work, of sacrifice and effort," said the 26-year-old sportsman.
"One must acknowledge that ... this is due to the support that the president has given to the sport and, truthfully, one must be grateful for this because it was made possible for me thanks to him," Limardo emphasized.
The fencer said that he will place the replica of the liberator's sword, which he brandished playfully but briefly before those present, in Bolivar's house in the southern state of his birth, Bolivar, "because there is where it deserves to be." EFE