2012 London Summer Olympics

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When Yane Marques began modern pentathlon at the age of 19, she didn't have any running skills and had only seen fencing on television.

Nine years later, the current world No 6 is one of Brazil's Olympic medal hopefuls and a role model in a sport with little tradition in the South American country.

Marques is hoping that her determination, combined with eight hours of training per day - and, why not, a bit of luck - will help her move from an 18th place in Beijing to a podium in London.

"People ask me what's the secret of training so hard and putting so much dedication into it. I say that I love what I do. It is a pleasure to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and go running," she said.

"But, when I began, I didn't even know what pentathlon was. I was a swimmer and, at first, it was very challenging. I used to swim like a man and run like a baby. I couldn't run at all", she admitted.

"At the same time, I loved riding horses; I am from a small city so I was familiar with it. Shooting was easy as well but I had never watched a fencing competition."

The 28-year-old was catapulted to stardom in her home country after winning gold at the Rio Pan American Games in 2007, but has had mixed fortunes since.

The Olympic Games debut in 2008 wasn't as good as Marques expected.

But, three years later, she won silver at the CISM Military World Games and at the Guadalajara Pan American Games and became world No 3, the best position achieved by a South American athlete so far.

"I feel I won a jackpot in 2007; that gold medal was a turning point for pentathlon in Brazil", she said.

"Since Beijing, I have improved my technique, especially the running. I have been focusing on it this year and I am seeing the results."

A bronze last May in the UIPM World Cup in Chengdu, her last competition before the London Games, made her even more optimistic about claiming an Olympic medal.

"If I didn't believe I could win a medal I wouldn't be training that hard. Anything can happen in modern pentathlon and there are many athletes with real chances", she said.

"It will depend on who has more hardness in the shooting, especially because when you get to it you are already tired; whoever has more coolness in fencing and know the right time to attack.

On top of that, you need to have luck because if you are a good rider but you don't get along with the horse, you will not do well.

"I just want to make sure that I will be in top form for the Games. At the same time, it's hard work so you have to rest to avoid injuries.

"A podium in London would be the acknowledgment of a lot of people's efforts. There are many hands holding an Olympic medal," she added.

Marques has seen many people give up the sport in Brazil for not handling the routine.

That's why, even if the medal doesn't come, she still wants to inspire the new generation of pentathletes in the best possible way.

"I feel a lot of responsibility, but being a good example is natural. I don't drink, don't go out a lot," she said.

"Children tell me they saw me competing and now they are doing pentathlon. I always encourage them because few people practice it in Brazil.

"If we want to have other 'Yanes' in the future we need to have a lot more people doing modern pentathlon."



Modern Pentathlon: Brazil's Yane Marques Carrying a Dream of a Nation