Yane Marques, 32, is the flag bearer for host country Brazil at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She is a modern pentathlon athlete, with a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics on her resume. She qualified for the Olympics last year after finishing third at the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) Senior World Championship in Berlin.
Here’s a look at Marques’ career and how she was picked to be Brazil’s flag bearer.
1. Marques Won an Online Vote to be Brazil’s Flag Bearer & Is Only the Second Woman to Earn the Honor
Marques, who was born in the state of Pernambuco, earned the flag bearer role thanks to an online vote. She won 49 percent of the vote, beating volleyball player Sergio Santos, a gold medalist at Athens and silver medalist in Beijing and London, who received 40 percent. Yachtsman Robert Scheidt, who won gold in Atlanta 1996 and Athens, earned 11 percent. The results were announced on TV Globo’s Fantastic last week.
“I am overflowing with joy,” Marques said of the honor. “To carry the flag is a big honour. The Olympics will bring together people from all over the world. I want to convey the message that through sport we can all unite.”
Marques is only the second female athlete from Brazil to carry the country’s flag at an Olympic Opening Ceremony. Beach Volleyball star Sandra Pires carried the flag in Sydney. The 2012 flag bearer was horserider Rodrigo Pessoa. Scheidt carried the flag in Beijing.
2. Marques Originally Wasn’t Planning on Attending the Opening Ceremony
According to Globo, Marques wasn’t initially planning on the opening ceremony. That’s because the pentathlon events don’t start until August 18.
The modern pentathlon events begin with fencing on August 18. Swimming, horse jumping, running and shooting for women continue on August 19. The swimming section requires athletes to swim 200m freestyle. The running and shooting sections are now combined, so the running part is now just four 800m laps between shooting. For shooting, athletes use lasers instead of actual projectiles.
3. Marques Played Volleyball & Swam Before Picking the Modern Pentathlon
As one should expect from someone who competes at such a high stage of a sport that requires great skill in multiple disciplines, Marques was interested in other sports before she focused on modern pentathlon. According to Dialogo-Americas, she played volleyball and even won a local championship in swimming when she was 15.
But in 2003, she turned her attention to modern pentathlon when she was 19. A year later, she won the Brazilian modern pentathlon championship and picked up an award from the Brazilian Olympic Committee. In 2007, she qualified for the Beijing Olympics after winning gold at the Pan American Games in Rio. She finished 18th in Beijing.
One of Marques’ coaches is former army Major Alexandre Franca, who founded the Reclife Pentathlon Federation. He approached Marques about the sport after she competed in a swimming/running biathlon event.
“I had no idea what [the modern pentathlon] was. When I was introduced to it, I thought it was interesting and challenging. I was immediately all in,” Marques told Dialogo-Americas.
When Marques won bronze in London, she was the first Latin American to win a medal in the modern pentathlon.
4. Marques Is a Member of the Brazilian Army
In 2009, Marques joined the Brazilian Army and is now a sergeant. She trains at the Army’s Physical Training Center and won gold in the team event at the 2011 World Military Games in Rio. She also picked up a silver in the individual event and bronze in mixed relay. She’s one of 145 military athletes competing for the Brazilian team in Rio.
“I think that the military’s values are very close to those of athletes, like respect, responsibility, commitment, and dedication. It seem like we, as military, feel as though we’re representing our country more, we feel more patriotic,” Marques told Dialogo-Americas.
5. Marques Won Silver and Bronze at UIPM World Championships
Marques is the only Brazilian pentathlete to earn medals at the UIPM World Championships. She won silver at the 2013 championships in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She won silver at the 2015 championships in Berlin. Her win in Berlin qualified her for the Rio Olympics.
“I am so happy to get this medal and qualify for Olympics next year. I am going to the Olympics so really happy. I had a very good day with my fencing, and running so I am very happy,” she said after her win.
Last year, Marques also won gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto. In 2014, she picked up the gold at the South American Games.
The athlete to keep an eye on during the women’s modern pentathlon is Lena Schonenborn of Germany. She won gold at the world championships last year and bronze at the world championships in Moscow earlier this year. She’s the top-ranked pentathlete at the Olympics.