Sports

Oak Harbor grad begins run to qualify for 2012 Olympics

 Marti Melloy (blue uniform) throws her opponent in winning the Belgian Ladies’ Open.  - Photo courtesy of Chuck Medani
Marti Melloy (blue uniform) throws her opponent in winning the Belgian Ladies’ Open.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Chuck Medani

Marti Malloy, a 2004 Oak Harbor graduate, recently won the prestigious Belgian Ladies’ Open in judo and has now set her sights on making the Unites States Olympic team for the 2012 London Games.

Malloy, a two-time U.S. world team member, is only the third American to win the Belgian meet, the largest tournament in the world, drawing more competitors than the world championships.

To grab her gold medal in the 57 kilogram (125.5 pound) class, Malloy had to compete in eight matches in a 12-hour span in a division that featured 59 competitors.

Now Malloy begins her Olympic qualifying run. Starting May 1 and running through April 30, 2012, Olympic hopefuls start accumulating points based upon results from major world competitions.

The world’s top 14 women in each class will be invited to the 2012 Olympics. The Pan- American union, in which the United States competes, will also receive eight “wild card” slots.

This spring Malloy will take part in the Pan-American Championships in April in San Salvador. Grand Slam and International Training Club takes place May 22 and 23 in Rio de Janeiro, which precedes the World Cup May 29 and 30 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Other World Cup events are scheduled for Colombia and Venezuela in June.

She will also participate in World Team training for three weeks in Europe and the USA World Cup in Miami (the exact dates haven’t been determined).

The World Championships will be Sept. 9-13 in Tokyo.

Malloy said she considers her ninth place finish at the 2007 World Championships her greatest achievement so far.

She said, “Although I did not even take a medal, I ended up going 3-2 that day, which for me was a great feat at one of the toughest judo tournaments in the world. On top of that I had decided to fight a higher weight division that year, a division in which I had almost no experience and was virtually unknown.

“It showed me that I can thrive and do well at that level of competition and I think it has served as a confidence builder ever since.”

Malloy started her judo career by following the foot- steps of her father and two older brothers. Her father, who had participated in judo himself, enrolled his sons in a free class at the Navy base, and when Marti was old enough, 6, she began as well.

She said, “I mostly just thought it looked fun throwing your friends around and such. But after I won my first tournament at 6 years old and beat all my opponents by ippon (equivalent to a knock out in boxing), competition became my passion. I think I actually went undefeated the first few years I was competing.”

Malloy added, “One of my first judo coaches at NAS Whidbey was George Morris, who was very influential in maintaining the NAS judo club for more than 50 years. He has been one of the biggest supporters of my judo career for the 18 years I have been practicing.”

After graduating from Oak Harbor High School, Malloy went for a six-week tryout at San Jose State University; she was attracted to the school by its reputation and its leader, Yosh Uchida. Uchida helped develop judo as a competitive sport worldwide and was the first U.S. Olympic team judo coach.

Malloy said of her tryout: “I wanted to see how they trained, the school and such. I ended up loving it. SJSU has an incredible coaching staff made up of former world and Olympic champions with the knowledge to help me reach my judo goals. Not only that, education is a major factor on the judo team.”

At San Jose State athletes can’t compete unless they maintain good grades. Malloy said, “I liked that because I am big on having a career after I’m done with Judo.”

Malloy will graduate in December with a bachelor of science degree in advertising and a minor in psychology.

She added, “I will most likely stay in San Jose until after the next Olympics to train.”

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