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Unstoppable: Olympic medalist’s parents speak on community, spirit
Overjoyed, proud, elated — Marti Malloy’s parents certainly experienced these feelings as they watched their daughter earn a Bronze medal for judo at the 2012 London Olympic Games. But one thing they weren’t was surprised.
“She came in with a purpose,” said Marty Malloy, Marti’s dad.
“It’s been exciting, kind of overwhelming. Everyone’s still so excited about it and it’s heartwarming that everyone’s so excited. She did such a great job,” said Merry Malloy, Marti’s mom.
Wind and Tide Bookstore will hold a reception and art auction to benefit the Malloy family at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17. The event will celebrate Marti’s achievement and support her family with their expenses to travel to the Olympics in London.
Arnie Deckwa will be the auctioneer, selling art by local artists, high school students and more. Enjoy refreshments and meet Marti.
Marti will also be featured in the Oak Harbor High School Homecoming Parade at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
Despite having an incredible time in London, the trip was not cheap for Marti, her parents and her brothers, Reuben and Zane, who are also black belts in judo. Before they left for London, the community raised funds to help send the family overseas.
“The community reached out to us because they knew it was going to be really expensive for us to go,” Marty said. Without that help, they may have had to sell the house or Marty’s beloved old Cadillac, Marty joked, a note of seriousness in his voice.
“They gave us this opportunity,” Merry said of the community. Both added that they are “unbelievably grateful” to the community for their support.
The support has been much more than monetary. The Malloys recalled returning to Oak Harbor from London to a town full of business signs and banners congratulating their daughter. Since they hadn’t used Internet or phone in London, the surprise was heartwarming.
“Everybody had stayed up and watched her,” Merry said. Marti’s judo match was aired on TV in the middle of the night for Oak Harbor viewers. People sent the Malloys videos of them watching Marti on TV and jumping up and down, shouting for joy.
“It was fantastic,” Marty said.
In London, “it was hot and humid,” Merry said, adding that they hadn’t expected that. Also unexpected was how friendly everyone was, Marty added.
The Malloys enjoyed visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, the Natural History Museum and Big Ben, and they walked by the Ministry of Defense and Wimbledon.
“We got to ride the Tube a whole lot of times,” Merry laughed.
Marti flew to London before her family and they weren’t allowed to see her until she fought. When she came out to fight for the Bronze medal, “the whole place was buzzing. There was only one person in there who was placid,” Marty said, adding that Marti had recently lost the match for the Silver medal but came back strong. “She came out totally in charge. She embodies that discipline and code of conduct of the sport.”
“That girl is standing across the mat from you, she came halfway around the world like you to pick a fight,” Marty continued.
When she won the match, the Malloys were ecstatic.
“She did it! She did it!” Marty said he remembered shouting.
“They kind of favored her for a medal, they knew this could be her time,” he added, speaking of followers of the sport of judo and Marti’s coach, Yoshihiro Uchida, a judo legend in his 90s.
Then followed a whirlwind of media for Marti. Her parents couldn’t even hug her after she won. Later, they got five minutes with her at the U.S.A. House before she was whisked away for more photos, Merry said. They had to change their plans to sightsee as a family over the following days as Marti’s fame “swept her up immediately,” Merry said.
They tried to visit the Tower Bridge, “and people just swamped her there,” Merry said. Crowds swarmed Marti to get photos and autographs and to see her medal.
“We were afraid she was going to fall off the bridge at one point,” Merry said.
Marti also traveled to Washington, D.C. and met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“She said the President and his wife were very easygoing, very approachable. The conversations were easy, laid back,” Marty said.
Sticking to it
“Her hard work and ‘stick-to-it-ness’ were really key,” Marty said. Even after more than 20 years of hard work at her sport, Marti hasn’t slowed down.
Marti started judo at age 6. Merry took her oldest son to free judo classes on the Navy base and while the starting age was 8, Marti begged to take classes right away. She earned gold in her first tournament not long after and never looked back.
“They have a saying in judo: ‘Never miss a practice.’ She epitomizes that,” Marty said, adding that he attributes it to Merry’s good genes and Merry taking their children to judo, especially when he was at sea for the Navy.
“My daughter really epitomizes that phrase: hard work really pays off. She’s inspirational. She put herself through school, learned how to train and lead others in judo,” Marty said, adding that she was captain of the judo team at San Jose State University for all four years of college while working two or more jobs, competing around the world for judo and still maintaining a great GPA.
At San Jose State, judo is “go big or go home,” Marty said. “She rocked them.”
When legendary judo coach Uchida met Marti at San Jose State, he told her that if she worried about her academics, he’d get her to the Olympics. He introduced the sport of judo as an Olympic game in the 1960s and was the driving force to let women compete in the 1990s. Marti is only the second American woman to medal in judo at the Olympics.
Marti’s perseverance is the lesson Marty said he hopes the community takes away from her story. Two years ago, Marti’s brother, Francis, was killed in a car accident in Oak Harbor.
“To come back from that and have our daughter do such a great thing teaches you never to give up. It sets a great tone for the rest of her life,” Marty said, adding that to have the family come back with such a positive win is phenomenal because a lot of times, tragedy like that destroys a family.
“Not us. Our daughter had bigger fish to fry,” Marty said.
And she still does. Despite offers from NBC, Marti will go back to school to get her masters degree. With plans to compete in the World Games next year and the Olympic Games in 2016, Merry and Marty said they miss seeing their daughter but her future is bright.
“She just never quit. I hope that she can build a career around her name and the fame she’ll earn from this,” Marty said.
Support the Malloys
Wind and Tide Bookstore will host a reception and art auction benefitting Olympic Bronze medalist Marti Malloy and her family.
When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.
What: Art auction, meet Marti and enjoy refreshments.
RSVP is required by calling 675-1342.
Wind and Tide is located on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.