A 30-year-old woman from San Jose will be making her second appearance next month at the Summer Olympics, where she hopes to fight her way to a gold medal.
Marti Malloy, 30, is the second American woman to ever medal in judo. She has a bronze model from the 2012 Olympics in London, the same level Ronda Rousey reached during the 2008 games in Beijing, China.
Malloy will compete in the lightweight class for women weighing in at 57 kilograms, which is equal to 125 pounds.
Malloy currently ranks among the top 14 in the world, a standing that didn’t come without countless hours of “intense” training at the gym, where she works out twice a day except on Sundays.
“I’m preparing for the Olympics by basically killing myself every single day.”
The 5-foot-3-inch fighter who’s known for her armbar is also getting ready through weight training, conditioning and sparring with other judokas at a level that mimics a real tournament.
“When you do judo you’re very anaerobic, breathing hard and using every muscle in your body.”
Malloy has been traveling to training camps and taking part in competitions around the world in preparation for the games in Brazil.
Before going into a competition, she closes her eyes and visualizes what it’s like to be successful while laying in bed or on a mat at the gym, Malloy said:
“I feel like if you add up all my years of judo I’m the best version of a judo player than I’ve ever been and I hope that I can get even better.”
Malloy has spent nearly 25 years practicing judo, a sport she took up after her father when she was 6 years old growing up at a military base in Washington state with her brothers.
“Before I step on the mat, I have this thing people give me crap for. It’s a silly story.”
Malloy walks up to the edge of the mat and stands at the tips of her toes, a routine that she picked up as a child from her brothers who all also took ballet classes.
She became more serious with her judo career at 16 years old and now feels she’s at the peak in the sport, seeing improvements in herself everyday.
Malloy came to SJSU in 2005 with only $50 in her bank account and picked up a job at Freshly Baked Eatery, a deli near campus in front of St. James Park in downtown San Jose.
While at SJSU, Malloy was captain of the judo team founded and coached by Yoshihiro Uchida, who she considers her mentor, friend and family, having dinner with him at least once a month.
Uchida, 96, will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro to support the judo team. He coached the first U.S. judo team to enter the Olympics in 1964, Malloy said.
Uchida has produced more Olympians and Olympic medals in the sport than any other training center, Malloy said.
Malloy received a bachelor’s degree in advertising in 2010 and a master’s degree in mass communications in December.
She maintained a busy schedule during her years at SJSU that started with weight training, followed by class, a shift at the sandwich shop, another class and judo practice by night.
“My only job right now is to workout and rest.”
Malloy said it will be “thrilling” to fight in judo in Brazil, where the sport has a large fan base and comparable to the way some Americans consider football as the top sport.
Malloy is excited to travel to Brazil, a place she said is almost a paradise, and will spend time with her parents who will be visiting South America for the first time.
Malloy’s boyfriend and two friends from her master’s degree program will also be making the trip to Rio de Janeiro to support her.
Brazil is one of many countries that have experienced a “dynamic” outbreak of the Zika virus, which is passed through an infected mosquito’s bite and can lead to birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has issued a travel notice for anyone heading to the Olympics with tips on how to prevent catching the virus.
Malloy doesn’t have any concerns surrounding the disease and said she trusts the U.S. Olympic Committee will ensure athletes will be protected.
She will be leaving Monday for Brazil and is set to compete a week later on Aug. 8. Each fight lasts up to four minutes for women, with increasingly shorter breaks, and awards will be given by the day’s end.
“I plan to win and celebrate the whole time.”
The 30-year-old woman believes she’s grown in the past four years and is more than ready make her return to the Olympics:
“I’m a stronger fighter than I was and 100 percent more confident.”