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Oak Harbor Olympian plans on homecoming
It’s the excitement of the sport that keeps this 26-year-old coming back to achieve higher and higher honors. And in her medal-winning competition at the Olympic Games in London, there was no shortage of exhilaration as she threw Italy’s eighth-ranked judo star for the win in under three minutes.
Marti Malloy, a 2004 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, was the second woman from the United States to win an Olympic medal for judo, and the United States’ 11th judo medalist overall.
“It was great!” Malloy’s voice was still charged with excitement as she spoke about her experience at the Olympics, although she recently returned to her home in San Jose, Calif. “It was kind of like an electric atmosphere from start to finish.”
Just making it to the Olympics was a dream come true for Malloy, but “being able to come back with a medal was kind of like the icing on the cake of the whole experience,” Malloy said.
Despite the pressure to perform in her medal-winning match, Malloy said she forced herself to stay calm. “It felt good,” Malloy said of competing. “Obviously, I was pretty nervous. I tried to think of it like any other judo tournament I was fighting in. I tried to tell myself to enjoy it and I’m glad I did.”
Malloy, who has practiced judo since age 6 and said for years that she planned to make it to the Olympics someday, anticipated earning a medal at the Games but she didn’t anticipate the whirlwind afterward. Media, interviews, photos — it all blended into a thrilling tornado. What she can remember is the moment she learned she had earned a bronze medal.
“It’s actually one of the weirdest sensations I’ve ever had. It’s the happiest you’ve ever been but you’re crying,” Malloy said. “At the same time, I felt disbelief, in shock that I had a medal and it hit me all at once. It was a really great feeling!”
Her entire time in London was great, Malloy said. Her parents, Marty and Merry Malloy of Oak Harbor, joined her in London and they had the opportunity to visit Tower Bridge and see Big Ben. The famous London landmark Malloy saw the most of was the Tube, “because I was riding the train everywhere,” Malloy laughed.
Olympic Park was particularly thrilling to Malloy, the Olympic spirit nearly tangible in the excited crowds.
“It was crazy. There were thousands of people from all places wandering … it was just a really fun time,” Malloy said. “Being around the whole Olympic movement in general, it’s something you never forget.”
Although often too busy to watch the other sports, Malloy did get the chance to see wrestling, the sport she really wanted to catch. She also enjoyed women’s soccer.
Malloy said the Olympic experience didn’t change her as a person but “definitely a bunch of cool opportunities opened up for me.” Her future goals have soared to new heights. “I came really close to being in the semifinals and fighting for gold. I’m more motivated to go back to the Olympics and come back with a different colored medal next time.”
Malloy does hope to qualify for the Olympics in 2016, but there are other judo competitions to test her skills in the meantime. The World Judo Championships are next year and Malloy won’t miss that for the world. She has fought in the World Championships four times and last year, she lost in the bronze medal match.
“Ever since then, I’ve been really motivated. The competition is pretty stiff there,” Malloy said.
Malloy did earn bronze at the Grand Slam Paris this year, one of the most well-attended judo tournaments.
“It’s all been building up till this point,” Malloy said.
Malloy has devoted her life to judo. After watching her brothers study judo, she jumped in at age 6 and never let go.
“It’s a really, really dynamic sport. There are so many ways to win,” Malloy said, the excitement in her voice mirroring her enthusiasm for the sport. “But I also like that in judo, anyone can win at any given moment.”
Malloy made her first leap into fame at age 16 when she claimed a gold medal at the 2002 Rendez-Vous Canada. In 2005, she won a silver medal at the U.S. Open and became the only United States athlete to win gold at the Junior Pan American Championships.
She studied under legendary judo instructors at San Jose University and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor degree in advertising.
Oak Harbor plans to celebrate its first Olympic medalist with a place of honor in the Oct. 18 Oak Harbor High School homecoming parade.
“I’m really excited! We’re kind of working on the details right now,” Malloy said.