LIVERMORE, CA, February 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- While some athletes made 2012 headlines for all the wrong reasons, there was an athlete that quietly toiled at her craft and came out on top. And by on top we mean, she became an Olympic champion, made it into the history books and rather than whooping it up in Vegas, went on a mission to bring her beloved sport of Judo into the national limelight. It has been a joy for those that know her to see USA Judo athlete Marti Malloy get her due. Deservedly, elected as Marpo's first annual Athlete of the Year.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Malloy lost to Romania's Corina Caprioriu with just seven seconds left in the bout. "After losing the semifinal, it's the hardest thing in the world to come back," Malloy said. "You want to be mad and angry and upset, but my coach pulled me aside and said, 'You came here to win. You lost a close match and if you really want to win you're going to totally change your mindset and come back and focus on the bronze.'"
And she did just that. Malloy came back with an ippon to win the bronze medal in the women's judo 57 kg class. Her first medal is the second for an American female and the 11th overall in U.S. Olympic judo history.
How has winning the bronze changed your life?
"Winning an Olympic bronze medal has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The most significant change though would have to be my increased confidence as a judo player.By being successful on the Olympic stage I was able to realize that with the right tools,dedication and passion I can do anything I aspire to do.That confidence carries over into every aspect of my life. There isn't anything I don't think I can do now that I have challenged myself and succeeded at what I think is the toughest competition on the planet".
Though judo is only second to soccer in worldwide popularity it has yet to achieve mainstream recognition in the United States. Since the Olympics, Marti has done numerous interviews and appearances, proudly representing as an ambassador for the sport of judo. Says Marti, "Even before I came close to making an Olympic team I strived to be one. I love judo and I love the ideals and principles it instills in its practitioners. Discipline, hard work, courage, respect and integrity are all things that you can learn from judo".
Do you see Judo being perceived differently today as opposed to 5 years ago?
"Judo is slowly becoming more mainstream with former judo players breaking into other more popular martial-arts. For that reason, I think that people who formerly thought of judo as the sport that has the 'judo chop' are now realizing that there is no chopping and that judo players can do some pretty incredible things. I also think the perception about American judo specifically has changed. With Ronda Rousey winning the first Olympic medal for American women in judo in Beijing we have seen American judo players on the rise as top contenders in a lot more categories than we have in awhile. I think that where previously, knowing you were fighting an American first round at a tournament was like a walkover-it no longer is".
Unlike fellow judoka Rhonda Rhousey, Marti doesn't have any plans to follow up her Olympic win with a UFC career though some speculated on their own when a picture of her and UFC prez Dana White showed up on social media. Marti clarified with us saying, "I don't have any plans to do MMA. I am however a huge fan of it and appreciate the athletic skill and sacrifice it takes to be successful in it. But the fact of the matter is that I have no aspiration to punch people or be punched, let alone be kicked or elbowed or any of that other painful stuff. Contrary to how it looks, when done properly judo is relatively painless and gentle. I am a martial artist yes, but I prefer to be just a judo player. I also just don't really feel any desire to learn or perfect the things that MMA would require but I do have fierce desire to perfect my judo".
We can however look forward to following her career as a judo athlete and anticipate the excitement to see her in 2016. "The coaching staff at USA Judo place a lot of focus on the young, up and coming athletes. Which is why I think people like myself, Kayla Harrison and Travis Stevens have been able to improve over the years. I think 2012 was just the start".
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