Marti MalloyA first-time Olympian, physical and aggressive U.S. judo player Marti Malloy is psyched and ready for the London Games. INFOtainment News had the good fortune to talk with Marti 80 days out from the opening ceremonies.

When asked what she loves about her sport, U.S. Olympian Marti Malloy answers, “judo is a strategic match where you react to reactions and when it all comes together, it’s beautiful.”  She expands that “any one person, on any one day” can have just such a beautiful experience and win in the sport whose name means The Gentle Way.  But you get the sense in speaking with Malloy and watching her compete, that this lofty perspective is only one side of the coin.  Because you are immediately drawn in by her energy and can very much feel her passion for judo and for competing – and you know that she absolutely brings it in her fights.

Always ready to go out and fight, her approach has been that the more you compete the stronger you’ll get – win or lose.  “Losing is the best fuel to get better,” says Malloy, although she’s done a lot of winning through the years.  Long known for her physical and aggressive approach – “I will never give up” she informs – Malloy has improved her technical abilities working with her coaches at San Jose State University, a U.S. judo hub.  San Jose State has 45 of the 51 NCAA championships ever, and Malloy is a 4-time collegiate champion.

Although she’s a first time Olympian, Malloy does have Olympic perspective as she was a training partner for the U.S. team at the ’08 Beijing Games.  It was in Beijing that she set her sights on London. “It was great being there (in Beijing), but I wanted to compete. I said to myself, ‘I want this,’ and began thinking about making the Olympics.”  Judo players qualify for 14 spots per weight class in the Olympics based on points earned leading to rankings.  In 2008 Malloy was ranked around #30, then moved up the board into the teens over the past few years.  It was last August at the World Championships where she placed 5th that Malloy gave herself a boost in the rankings and a real chance of going to the Olympics.  When she took bronze at the prestigious Paris Grand Slam in February, moving up to #10 in the world rankings, Malloy punched her ticket for London.  “For me Paris had always been such a huge event, and I went from being a fan to being a medalist,” she says. “Realizing that I was going to the Olympics was surreal.”

To prep for London Malloy’s been working on visualization.  This effort is about her recalling prior positive experiences.  When she works out, Malloy applies that mindset as she visualizes where she’ll be and who she’ll be going against to “be there ahead of time.”  At the Games she aims to go into battle “attentive and ready” using her unique pre-match approach.  Malloy warms up hard and fairly long so that her mind and body are in “mid-practice” mode – so that as she gets on the mat she hits the ground running and doesn’t look back.

Born and raised in Washington in a judo family, Malloy’s been fighting and consistently winning since she was 6.  When she’s on the podium in July in London, Malloy says she’ll be thinking of all the people she wants to thank, “my family, friends, and coaches for 20 years of support, and everyone who gave me a good luck pat-on-the-back along the way.”

Click Here to listen to our audio interview with Marti Malloy

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Marti Malloy

Storified by James Hicks · Sun, May 13 2012 02:16:12

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Judo 2011 World Championships Paris: Marti Malloy (USA) – Irina Zabludina (RUS) [-57kg]grouls002
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