The 26-year-old was ranked 11th in the world, but finished third in a grueling day of matches
LONDON — Athletes in the sport of judo say the toughest part of a tournament can be the bronze-medal match.
After a grueling day of fighting, and losing in a semifinal, you must pick yourself up, brush off the disappointment and get ready to go again.
Marti Malloy, the Oak Harbor High graduate, faced that challenge at the 2012 London Olympics on Monday.
“You want to be mad and angry and upset,” Malloy said. “But my coach pulled me aside and said, ‘You came here to win.’ “
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Malloy found a way to keep her emotions in check, then took her frustration out on Italy’s Giulia Quintavalle, scoring a decisive ippon — judo’s version of a knockout — to reach the podium in the 57-kilogram (125-pound) division at the ExCeL complex.
“When I ended up catching her with a full score at the end, the shock of it, it still gives me goose bumps,” she said.
The 26-year-old joined a relatively short list of Americans who have medaled in judo, a club that includes the Olympic team coach, Jimmy Pedro.
Kaori Matsumoto of Japan won gold this time around, defeating Corina Caprioriu of Romania in the final. Judo’s complicated tournament draw includes two bronze matches — Automne Pavia of France won the other.
“The biggest challenge for Marti is to forget about everything,” Pedro said after the loss to Caprioriu. “Emotionally, it’s a roller coaster.”
At least there wasn’t much chance to ruminate. Within 20 minutes, it was time to start warming up for Quintavalle. And that match did not last long.
Barely two minutes into the action, Malloy spotted an opening to fake a sode and throw her opponent with an inside maneuver known as a Ko-uchi-gari.
Just that quickly, the Washington native had dismissed any bad memories. Ranked 11th in the world coming into London, she finished ahead of expectations.
“I peaked for this tournament,” she said. “It’s my first Olympics, and I feel fantastic leaving with the bronze.”