Oak Harbor’s Marti Malloy surprised the judo world by capturing a bronze medal in the Olympic Games Monday, but she didn’t surprise herself or those around her.
Heading into the games, Malloy, ranked 10th in the world in the 57kg (125-pound) class, said she was ready and peaking at the right time and a medal was certainly within reach.
USA Olympic judo coach Jimmy Pedro said he liked Malloy’s chances going into the tournament, and back home, her original sensei, George Morse, was also confident.
Malloy began her judo journey when she was six years old, and Morse saw something special even then. He liked her qualities — quiet, respectful and hard-working. He said, “She was always eager and enthusiastic, willing to work and to help others. She gives as much as she gets.”
Many didn’t expect Malloy to make it out of the first round at the Olympics. She opened against the world’s second-ranked athlete, Telma Monteiro of Portugal, someone who had defeated Malloy in three previous matches. This time, however, Malloy won. Two other wins followed before she lost with seven seconds left in the semifinal match.
In the bronze medal bout, she defeated defending Olympic champion Guilia Quintavalle.
Malloy said she had never faced Quintavalle before and was a “huge fan” of hers since Quintavalle won the 2008 Games.
Malloy’s bronze was just the second judo medal ever won by an American female and the USA’s 11th overall.
Malloy said losing in the semifinals and having to come back for the next bout was the “hardest thing in the world.”
She added, “You are the unhappiest you have ever been and have to flip it over and get confidence and get focused and believe you are going to win the next match.”
After the win, she told King 5: “It’s the weirdest sensation. Absolute, complete shock. Not because I didn’t think I could do it, but in the manner I did it, so decisively. I was completely shocked but at the same time, I was entirely ecstatic.”
Malloy’s father, Marty, told the Associated Press, “All I can ever remember about my daughter is going to judo tournaments since she was six.”
He followed her to London and now is “going to have a beer in her honor.”
Marti Malloy, 26, said she is not sure if she will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympic games. First she would like to win the world championship. “That is all we dream about,” she said.
Morse said he could see a little of himself out on the mat when he watched Malloy compete Monday: “We (coaches) all see that.” He said it was a good feeling and it wouldn’t be possible “if it wasn’t for the pupil.”
Morse said, “We knew Marti would be successful at something, we just didn’t know what.”
Now we do.
Another Olympian with Whidbey roots, Adrienne Lyle, is competing in the dressage equestrian competition in London. She is the daughter of Greg and Anne Lyle of Clinton.