Long before she hit it big in MMA and posed nude for ESPN magazine, Ronda Rousey was a brash young judo phenom with a penchant for armbars. Four years ago, she ran up a string of impressive wins and quotes on her way to the first Olympic medal for an American in women's judo.
Marti Malloy may never strike fear and obsession in the hearts of the MMA community the way Rousey has. But she can match Rousey in one respect—as of Monday, she is an Olympic judo medalist.
Malloy had a tough matchup in the first round—Portugal's Telma Monteiro, who was second in the qualification rankings and had beaten Malloy three times in recent bouts. She hung with Monteiro in regulation and then got a yuko, the smallest score awarded, to win in the "golden score" overtime session.
From there, Malloy was on a roll. We can only hope the folks with video rights give up repeated showings of Malloy's emphatic throw of Colombia's Yadinys Amaris, which earned the American an ippon, or "instant win," just 40 seconds into the contest. She then struggled but survived against Russia's Irina Zabludina to reach the semifinals.
But judo's tournament format has a little quirk. Semifinal losers drop down to meet the winners of a repechage round to try to earn their bronze medals. So after losing to Romanian star Corina Caprioriu with seven seconds left in their semifinal, Malloy had to face defending champion Giulia Quintavalle of Italy.
Quintavalle seemed to have the upper hand early, sometimes literally. Then halfway through the five-minute regulation period, the end came in a blink. Malloy swept her foot behind Quintavalle's leg and deposited the Olympic champion on her backside. She looked over at the ref for confirmation and got it—another ippon, and a rare medal for the USA.
Then came the tears. And a little later, the medal ceremony.
Malloy isn't alone is her success. Roommate Ariel Hsing didn't medal, but she fared well in another event that isn't usually kind to Americans.
Malloy (@Martidamus) July 29, 2012
And Rousey's a fan:
Rousey (@RondaRousey) July 30, 2012
With two medals in two Games and former world champion Kayla Harrison still to come, Malloy will look to continue to take the U.S. women's judo program to new heights.