A few days before the start of the Olympic Games, many athletes are getting their last minute workouts in and their game faces on. Perhaps no one is working on this harder than Marti Malloy, who won bronze in London after a brutal semi-final loss.
“I’ve been planning my revenge for four years,” the judo player said during one of her final practices before Rio. “It’s funny, in the four years since I lost to her in London, we’ve never fought each other. This is my first chance to get that loss back.”
The San Jose State University alum is referring to Romanian judoka Corina Caprioriu, who defeated Malloy in the final seven seconds of Olympics in 2012. If both advance in Rio, Malloy is expecting to face her rival during the semi-finals again on Monday.
“I’m still mad at myself. I can’t even think about it sometimes,” Malloy said. “I think if you win all the time you get this attitude about yourself that you’re unbeatable or maybe you don’t have to work as hard, but for me all of those losses weigh on me so heavy that I try to kill people when I train with them and push myself as hard as I can.”
By ‘kill,’ Malloy means ‘throw.’ The 125-lb. judo player’s competitive intensity is only matched by her friendliness off the mat. Now 30, Malloy says she’s more confident than ever.
Her coach Yosh Uchida agrees. In fact, the 96-year-old thinks her chances for gold are so great, he is traveling to Rio to watch her win.
“She’s such a determined young lady,” said Uchida, a legend in the judo world. He coached the USA’s first Olympic judo team in 1964.
He remembers Malloy as a freshman, doing whatever she could to train at San Jose State.
“She said, ‘I don’t have funds.’ I said, ‘Well, you can find jobs around here.’ Next day, she came and said, ‘I got two jobs,’” Uchida said.
Malloy fights in Olympic judo’s 57-kg weight class on August 8.
Whatever happens, she says she is not currently planning on going to Tokyo in 2020, “but if [Mr. Uchida] is still around then and he wants to go, I’ll do it for him,” Malloy said.
Uchida replied only with a laugh and, “We’ll see.”