VMI officer was an Olympic official

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - In his Brazilian uniform, Col. Marcelo Goncalez can seem a little out of place as he receives salutes from passing cadets.

But as part of the commandant’s staff, with the title officer in charge, he feels right at home.

“I fell in love for the place,” he said, “and I said, you know, maybe I can come to work here someday. And here I am!”

But this summer, he found himself in another place: Tokyo for the summer Olympics as an international official for the pentathalon.

“It’s five events, all five in the same day, in sequence and completely different from each other,” Goncalez explained.

Fencing, shooting, swimming, running, even horseback riding – five skills of a soldier – are included.

“Since 2012, I became part of the international federation we call the technical committee,” he said. “It’s a group of 12 members from different countries, and we are pretty much in charge about everything related to rules and regulations for the competition.”

But he found his experiences in Tokyo unlike any other competition.

“Tokyo was a unique event because unfortunately due to the pandemic, we couldn’t have spectators,” Goncalez remembered. “So we are having the events being conducted in a stadium with 50,000 totally empty seats.”

And in his role at VMI, he hopes to bring his two interests together by starting a pentathalon club at the institute.

“So I think we can start something here and it would not take long until maybe we can make it to the nationals and maybe even have a cadet competing internationally,” Goncalez said. “I see that completely possible.”

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