May 21, 2024

Do I have to swim a lot? – Marcos asked when he was introduced to the Modern Pentathlon back in 2015. By that time he was a swimmer, and after eight years dedicated to the practice of swimming, he had begun to feel that he was running out of motivation to go, day after day, to devour kilometers in the water.

The pentathlon, a sport that includes five disciplines and has a special place in Olympic history since it was created by the founder of the Games of the modern era, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, came at the right time and was a lifeline for the dream of being a high-performance athlete.

The change of specialty also triggered a metamorphosis in his mentality. His will reached unthinkable levels and his spirit of constant improvement has brought him to this 2024 where he will fulfill the prophecy of his father when he told him: “Marquitos, who sees you representing Cuba in the Olympic Games!

Marcos Antonio Rojas Jimenez will be Cuba’s sole representative in the Modern Pentathlon at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. He achieved his pass by finishing fourth in the men’s individual event at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023. With his presence, one of the key goals for this sport on the island is achieved: to continue its presence in the Olympic Games for the third consecutive time.

Marcos Antonio Rojas during one of the competitions at the Pan American Games, Santiago 2023. (Credit: Lilyan Cid)
Marcos Antonio Rojas during one of the competitions at the Pan American Games, Santiago 2023. (Credit: Lilyan Cid)

“I feel proud that the Cuban pentathlon has another Olympic representative in this new cycle. It is already three consecutive participations in the Olympics” – says the boy who was born 23 years ago in Las Tunas, a city located in the center of the westernmost part of the eastern region of Cuba, also known as ” The balcony of the Cuban East”.

“They say that nothing is casual, but my encounter with this sport was a little bit casual. I was a little bored with swimming and I was presented with the possibility of changing. It was five events instead of one and that turned out to be the most exciting thing. I was about to give up the sport and now here I am, about to fulfill the dream.”

Marcos, whose identifier before the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) is M047365, is the fifth Cuban pentathlete to qualify for the most important sports event in the world. Previously, Lester Ders (Tokyo 2020), Ricardo Figueroa and Leidy Laura Moya (Rio 2016) and Yanier Velázquez had done so. The latter is the author of the best historical performance of modern pentathlon in summer events (fifteenth place in Beijing 2008).


Now we are going to enter into a conversation with Marcos, who agreed to receive us for the HUELLAS project of Centro Caribe Sports, and shortly, I will share with you the story of this great Cuban athlete.

What are your expectations and personal goals for this Olympic competition?
I dream of a medal, I think it’s a goal in the life of every athlete, but the main goal is to finish in the best but the main
objective is to finish in the best possible place, with my sights set on
what Yaniel Velazquez did in the Olympic Games. Yaniel Velázquez in Beijing.

Do you visualize yourself surpassing his performance?
I see even more. I always say to myself: if Emiliano Hernandez could do it, so can I.

Emiliano Hernandez is a pentathlon reference in Latin America, and he is also one of the iconic figures of the sport worldwide. The Mexican athlete has added to his legacy by becoming the fourth athlete in the world to reach 1524 points (equaling the world record), with his participation in the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

Challenges during your preparation for the Olympic Games?
The biggest challenge was undoubtedly the injury I had at the Pan American Games. It was a challenge from a mental point of view because I was five months without training and I kept training mentally all the time. Keeping the focus and developing the ability to feel like someone who follows his usual training dynamics is the biggest challenge I’ve had. Thank God I am now recovered, training well and feeling like new.

The keys to being a successful pentathlete.
You have to have a huge physical preparation because there are five disciplines, and that is the first step because the body has to ‘be at 100’. You also have to be at your best mentally. Personally I visualize everything, every night, in every training session, in every moment, I am trying to imagine what is going to happen, always thinking about how to compete in the best possible way.

Which discipline of modern pentathlon is your favorite?
My favorite discipline is fencing. Even though I used to be a swimmer and swimming is my event for sure, fencing is the event I love. Every bout, the adrenaline, and the sensations it gives me are unmatched.

How did the preparation go?
Super well. I have received at all times the accompaniment, support and help from the coaches and also from the Cuban Federation headed by Frank Martinez Plasencia. The other fundamental link in this path is my family, always vital.

What would you say to your followers?
That I am grateful to them for accompanying me and that I thank them in advance because I know that in Paris I will feel the good vibes of all Cubans.

After the Olympic Games there will be changes in the sport. What are your
plans to receive these changes?

I have already practiced a little bit the new test and it was not at all difficult for me. I’m sure that won’t be an obstacle, I did a bit of gymnastics when I was little and I think that will also help me.
Looking ahead to the 2028 Olympic Games, changes have been announced. For example, the equestrian event and horses will be dispensed with, and in their place will be an obstacle course based on the ‘Ninja Warrior’ modality.

What advice would you give to young people who might be interested in following in your

Go for it, I’m sure they will love it. The competitions at the international level are beautiful. To be honest, I would say they are the most beautiful. Besides, we have the possibility of doing five sports in one, there are five disciplines and that makes you always motivated because there is a lot of variety.


The modern pentathlon consists of five events: fencing (epee), swimming (200 m freestyle), equestrian jumping, and Laser-Run (pistol shooting and 800 m four-lap cross country run).

In Paris 2024, the event will be held from August 8 to 11. The fencing ranking round will take place on the first day at the North Paris Arena. The semi-finals and final will be held at the iconic Palace of Versailles, a venue that will host the events of the five disciplines of the sport in an ideal setting for the public.

The order of the disciplines will also be new in Paris 2024, with short break intervals: 35 minutes equestrian (equestrian jumping), 5 minutes break, 20 minutes fencing (epee) – bonus round, 10 minutes break, 15 minutes swimming (200 m freestyle), 15 minutes break, 20 minutes combined event (laser run).

The changes to the modern pentathlon format are aimed at increasing the popularity of the sport.

“Our new modern pentathlon format is very much aligned with these two principles: it will drastically improve the experience for fans and viewers while maintaining the essence of the sport,” assures UIPM President Klaus Schormann on the organization’s official website.

Written by Lilyan Cid


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