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By The Associated Press, Associated Press

Gold medalist fencer Ruben Limardo returned home to Venezuela to find dozens of cheering fans waiting for him at the airport with flags and balloons.

In tears, Limardo said: "I never imagined they'd receive me like this."

Limardo's gold medal was Venezuela's first since boxer Francisco "Morochito" Rodriguez won the light flyweight division in the 1968 games. Rodriguez was among the crowd that welcomed Limardo at the airport.

President Hugo Chavez announced last week that he will present Limardo with the country's highest honor, the Order of the Liberator, and will give him a replica of a sword once used by South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

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