Q and A with Marti Malloy

April 24, 2013, 3:10 p.m. (ET)

What advice would you give to young people?

Marti Malloy took a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London. She is already targeting the Olympic Games in 2016. And she’s got some terrific advice for kids in this Q&A with USA Judo She also talks about recovering from judo injuries and the moments that touched her here in London.

USA Judo: Congratulations! You’ve had some great victories this month, a National Championship, a silver medal and gold team medal at the Pan American Championships. Can you tell us about those and how they fit a longer-term strategy in your judo career?

Marti: Thank you! Since I returned to competition a couple weeks ago for the first time since the Olympics I am very pleased with my performance. I intentionally gave myself a lengthy break to go "back to the drawing board" as they say and work on my waza without the added pressure of needing to train for competition. There is still plenty of work to be done but I am so happy that the changes I have been striving to implement in my judo are coming along bit by bit. Long term am hoping to see these changes transfer over into the major competitions I will compete in and make me into the effective judoka I know I can be.

USA Judo: Heard you were recovering from an injury maybe - Is that right? Looks like you're in great shape again. Can you tell us a bit about the injury, the recovery? Is this just part of being in judo? or any sport?

Marti: I sustained a shoulder injury almost a year ago that I was unable to fully heal from, as the Olympics were only months away. Since then, it has been a constant balance of protecting and rehabbing my shoulder while training. But the break I took from competing after London has given me the chance to fully heal and I am so happy to not be burdened by my injury any longer!  It’s definitely just a part of being a judo player and I feel that I have been so lucky to not get any very serious injuries in my 20-year judo career. I can’t speak for ALL sports but with judo it definitely comes with the territory. In my experience,  judoka can be kind of crazy. By that I mean we ignore sometimes serious aches and pains in favor of our dreams - sometimes at detriment to our bodies. Sometimes, a long break to let things fully heal is the best thing you can do for yourself.

USA Judo: What has life been like since the Olympics?

Marti: Since the Olympic, life has been a little different. I was pretty unaware of Olympic mania with London being my first Olympic team, and I was overwhelmed with happiness at the amount of love and support America bestows upon its representatives. Judo-wise, I feel that since the Olympics my confidence as a player has grown immensely. I was so thrilled to have been able to finally break through and show what I’m capable of on the mat, and that confidence has transferred over into all parts of my life. But in a way life is just the same. I still train fulltime and spend my days with the San Jose State University Judo team pushing and striving to always get better. The Olympics gave me a great result, but that time has passed and more challenges lay ahead, I’m still just trying to focus on the prize, Olympic gold-3 years from now.

USA Judo: What was your favorite moment at the Olympics?

Marti: My favorite moment at the Olympics was when I walked off the mat after winning the bronze medal and looked up into the stands and saw my Mom, Dad, brothers Reuben and Zane, my boyfriend David, my coach Yosh Uchida, my doctor and training partner Robert Nishime , the U.S. Judo team, and every American in the stadium absolutely losing their minds. I was so happy to share that moment with every one of them and see the joy I felt mirrored on their faces.

USA Judo: Was there another moment, or two, that really grabbed your heart?

Marti: Of course, the moment when my teammate and best friend Kayla Harrison took the gold medal in the -78kg division was a moment of heart-wrenching joy. She and I had traveled the world for years leading up to that moment and I had goose bumps all over watching her dream being realized. Another favorite moment was spending the closing ceremonies with Kayla, Kyle and Travis. We had been through so much as a unit and it was bittersweet watching the experience come to an end.

USA Judo: What advice would you have for young judo athletes who want to go to the Olympics?

Marti: I would tell them to KNOW that anything is possible. I always dreamed big but there were many points when I thought I wasn't good enough and never would be. It’s important to cast doubt aside and realize that no one can do the work for you and that your commitment, dedication and passion for your dreams are what will ultimately determine if they come true. I would also say, be open minded. There is not one way to succeed or improve. Take advice, accept constructive criticism, never be afraid to ask questions, never stop learning and never be afraid to take risks. Often times, I think that judoka think that they must do things the way one person tells them to. I have been fortunate enough at San Jose State to work with a vast array of talented coaches over the years. I have received priceless instruction and advice from all of them. I listened and learned from them all, but at the same time retained the things that worked for me and discarded the things that didn't. That has made me into the judoka I am today and I truly believe that judo players who are able to learn in this way can become great.