MMA’s Goncalez part of Olympic Games in Rio

Marcelo Goncalez

The spotlight all over the world is shining brightly on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and Col. Marcelo Goncalez, Massanutten Military Academy’s deputy commandant,  is very much a part of it.

Goncalez is the senior official for the modern pentathlon, an event that will start on Friday. For Goncalez, it’s even extra special being a part of the Olympic Games in his home country.

“For me, having the chance of take part on the Olympic Games in Brazil is really amazing,” Goncalez stated in an e-mail interview late last week. “Since I was a kid I used to watch the Olympics on TV, and everything seemed very distant, untouchable … and now I have seen in my own country all the movement and effervescence produced by people from all over the world that creates a kind of atmosphere that is only possible to be put together when the Olympic spirit visit the host city. It’s something very special that involves everyone. … It’s hard to explain. … That’s something you have to be present in order to feel it.

“I’m very happy and proud to take part in such a remarkable event.”

The modern pentathlon is an Olympic sport made up of five events: fencing, 200-meter freestyle swimming, show jumping and a final combined event of pistol shooting and a 3,200-meter cross-country run.

The event takes place in one day. The women’s event is Friday, and the men’s event is Saturday.

Goncalez stated that his name was submitted to the Rio 2016 Organizer Committee by the Brazilian Modern Pentathlon Federation based on his experience and background working as an official in other competitions in Brazil and around the world.

Goncalez stated that his main job as senior official is to coordinate the work of the 65 judges during the competition.

“We need to make sure that, in each one of the five events of the modern pentathlon, the judges will be working in order of the competition (so that it) runs smoothly and in the proper pace,'” Goncalez stated. “So that we don’t have, for example, any delay on the transition of a discipline to the next. I also will be part of what we call ‘Jury D’Appel,’ a group of seven people in charge of deciding about an eventual protest presented by a coach in case of disagreement of a judge’s decision.”

Goncalez stated that in 1996 he started working with the modern pentathlon, first as a coach and then as a judge/referee. He started out as a fencing coach for the modern pentathlon because he was a fencing athlete. He also coached the Brazilian Army fencing team for a number of years.

He stated that he was invited by a former technical director of the Brazilian Modern Pentathlon Federation to coach fencing for pentathletes.

“I fell in love for the modern pentathlon when I started to get more involved with the sport, because of its complexity and the variety of different skills that requires an awesome capability of adaptation and dedication,” Goncalez stated. “The modern pentathlon, in my opinion, summarizes the phrase of Aristotles about the ‘ancient pentathlon’: ‘a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength. … This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful.'”

Goncalez stated that the title of senior official only exists for the Olympics due to how much bigger of an event the Olympics games are. He stated he has served as a pentathlon director for numerous other modern pentathlons held in Brazil, including World Cups, South American Championships and Pan American Games.

In 2012 he became one of 11 members of the Union International de Pentathlon Modern Technical Committee. Goncalez stated that group is in charge of reviewing all the technical rules of the sport and proposes to the UIPM Executive Board any rule changes.

Goncalez also served as a commentator for ‘SPORTV’ in Brazil during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney, Australia. He also has been a coach or a referee for every Pan Am Games since 1999.

He noted that the first week of the Olympics he prepared for the upcoming competition by working on the infrastructure for the 65 modern pentathalon judges.

“We had a ‘test event’ last March (a Modern Pentathlon World Cup) in Rio that was used to testing all the venues and the time table for the Olympics, and, since then I have been involved with the preparation for this major event.”

There has been a lot of talk about the conditions in Rio, and whether things were safe for athletes and fans. Goncalez stated that he can only talk about the modern pentathlon.

“I’m very familiar with the venue where the modern pentathlon competition will happen and I can tell you that the structure built there is one of the best I have seen since I started working with modern pentathlon,” Goncalez said. “I’m aware of some issues involving the conditions in Rio, but, unfortunately, all those situations exist since long time ago and would be impossible to be solved just because of the Games.”

Goncalez said the preparation will continue for the modern pentathlon all the way up until the event starts on Friday.

“This last week will be dedicated to do more intense preparation regarding each event of the modern pentathlon, where the judges of a specific discipline needs to be more focused on that discipline, mainly considering the technical rules,” Goncalez stated. “Also, we’ll have a lot of rehearsals that involves the Olympic Games protocols.”

Goncalez is staying in the Officials Village, which isn’t close to the Athletes Village. He stated he was also very happy to watch the Opening Ceremony, which he thought showed a good feeling of what the Olympic spirit is all about.

Goncalez spent almost 32 years in the Brazilian Army as an infantry officer before retiring and coming to Woodstock to work at MMA in 2011.  He stated that he is very thankful for the cooperation MMA has given him.

“I’m deeply grateful to all members of the academy, mainly, to the MMA Head of School Dr. David Skipper and the academic dean, Mrs. Kim Post, for all support they have gave me to work not only for the Olympic Games, but also for other competitions that require I stay away from the school for short periods of time,” Goncalez said.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com