Isabel Salgado, considered a pioneer of women's volleyball in Brazil, has died at the age of 62

Brazilian volleyball legend Isabel Salgado has died suddenly at the age of 62, it has been announced.

Considered to be a trailblazer and star of women’s volleyball in Brazil, Salgado led the country’s national team at the Olympic Games of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, the first time the women’s team had taken part in such a major tournament.

They reached the quarter-finals on both occasions but set the team on to the path which saw them lift consecutive Olympic gold medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Salgado also played for the national team at the 1986 International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Women's World Championship in Czechoslovakia.

In the 1980s, she became the first Brazilian woman to play professionally abroad in Europe.

Salgado was also a bronze medallist at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan in Puerto Rico.

She later turned to the sand as she paved the way for beach volleyball in Brazil, playing several stages of the world FIVB World Tour, including winning at Miami in 1994.

Following her retirement, Salgado turned to coaching.

Isabel Salgado was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch before the start of Rio 2016
Isabel Salgado was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch before the start of Rio 2016

In 2016, she was among those chosen to carry the Olympic Torch before the Games in Rio de Janeiro, the city where she was born.

She also set an example off the court as the mother of five children, three of whom have built successful careers in international beach volleyball.

They included Pedro Solberg Salgado, a bronze medallist at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in The Hague, and Carolina Solberg Salgado, winner of a gold at the 2004 FIVB Under-18 World Championship and again in the Under-21 World Championship the following year.

Salgado died from acute respiratory distress syndrome in São Paulo on Wednesday (November 16), due to complications from pneumonia.

On Monday (November 16), only two days before her death, Salgado had been announced by Brazil’s vice-president-elect Geraldo Alckmin, as a member of the sports working group in the transition to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s new Government.

"The FIVB and global volleyball family extends its deepest condolences to Isabel Salgado’s family and loved ones during this difficult time," the FIVB said in a statement.