An atypical coincidence of time wanted the Venezuelans Rubén Limardo Gascón and Yulimar Rojas to win their respective Olympic gold medals on August 1, only with a difference of nine years between the one won by the Guyanese epee in London 2012, and the one obtained by the triple jumper from the capital with an Olympic and world record included in the pandemic event in Tokyo 2020, which was held last year.
A decade of Limardo's unforgettable feat is celebrated this Monday, and for memory shorts it is never too much to emphasize that it is one of the most dazzling feats of fencing in its centenary history of the Olympic Games, due to all the circumstances surrounding to this sport and, very particularly, to the individual épée.
Since fencing was incorporated into the calendar of the Olympic Games of modernity, in the second edition held in Paris 1900, 1.280 épée fencers from 83 nations have competed, and 25 of the 29 gold medalists have been Europeans:
- 7 italians
- 7 French
- 2 Hungarians
- 2 Belgians
- 2 russians
- 2 Germans
- 1 soviet
- 1 swedish
- 1 Swiss
Before Limardo's feat, only another épée fencer born outside Europe had been able to win gold in this weapon, and to date he is the only one to have won two of this metal and consecutively in the Olympic Games.
We are referring, of course, to the Cuban fencer Ramón Fonts, who was born in Havana, but from the age of 16 lived in Paris, where he trained as an accomplished fencer in the épée and foil weapons. In the latter, he also won the gold medal in the individual and team competitions at the San Luis 1904 Olympics.
It is so difficult for a non-European fencer to reach the épée final that the United States, the main dominating power of modern Olympism, has only one silver and one bronze medal in this weapon, both won in 1904. when Charles Tatam lost the final to Cuban Fonts, and his compatriot, engineer and novelist Albertson Van Zo Post, won the bronze medal.
It is worth remembering that on his way to the gold medal, Limardo fought against the American Seth Kelsey, the best épée athlete in that country since the Olympic Games in San Luis, the most electrifying combat of the semifinals, in what was a rematch for the guyanese
Kelsey had beaten Limardo 12-10 in the final of the Pan American Games in Guadalajara 2011, and had also been the executioner (15-9) of Silvio Fernández from Caracas in the London 2012 quarterfinals, preventing an unprecedented semifinal between Venezuelan epee athletes. .
That fight between the stocky Kelsey, 1.93 tall (XNUMX centimeters taller than Limardo), and with greater range for the thrusts, ended equal to five touches in the three rounds.
They went to sudden death and in a suicidal action, Limardo appealed to his swift arrow attack. Kelsey tried to repeat the same strategy as in Guadalajara: stretch out his armed arm and touch the Venezuelan's head to settle the lawsuit.
Only this time Limardo saw the touch coming. He shrunk, dodged the iron and raised his hand like a rocket to touch the giant's chest and earn the golden point to reach the long-awaited final. After that unlikely triumph, the gold medal was cooking and singing against the Norwegian Bartosz Piasecki.
He controlled the first round 4-3, doubled the window 12-6 in the following three minutes, endured the reaction of the Nordic who added four touches to get closer 14-10, but with another crush Limardo sentenced the confrontation, and rewrote Olympic history by end 118 years of the European yoke in the men's individual épée.
Limardo's gold would not have been possible without the family project that always had the support of his late mother, Noris Gascón, and uncle Ruperto Gascón, his teacher since he was 7 years old, when he started him in the art of playing and not being played. , in the now dilapidated Jesús Grúber weapons room in Ciudad Bolívar.
Noris was the one who encouraged Rubén to dedicate himself to fencing, and Ruperto molded him as a warrior of the pedana in Lodz, Poland.
The city became the training center and a strategic place to attend the tournaments and world cups organized by the International Fencing Federation, with financial support from the Ministry of Sports, which has subsidized a large part of its preparation and competitions.
Limardo's triumph had a significant impact on the promotion of fencing in Venezuela. A sport almost unknown to fans, became close, thanks to his lunges.
So one of the best tributes that can be paid to the Olympic champion is to recover the armory, where he began his path to gold.
Yulimar's gold resonates
The triumph of Yulimar Rojas on the same August 1, but in 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics, is so fresh in memory that his Olympic and world record of 15,67 meters still resonates in his last flight, to overcome the mythical mark of 15,50 m that the Ukrainian Inessa Kravets had imposed at the World Championships in Gothenburg, in 1995.
Unlike Limardo, whose gold surprised a majority of Venezuelans who had not carefully followed his successful career, Yulimar's victory was expected due to his absolute domination of this event.
Last March, he broke his own record with 15,74 meters at the Indoor World Championships in Belgrade. Her next challenge is the 16 m and becoming the first Venezuelan with two Olympic golds in Paris 2024.