Marti Malloy Interview Part I

March 19, 2014, 5:39 p.m. (ET)

Thank you all who took the time and sent questions to Marti Malloy, London 2012 Olympic medalist! We were thrilled to see that many of you asked Marti all of these great questions. Here is the first part of the interview:

1.  What is your favorite pump up song that sets you in your zone?

My favorite pump up song is ‘Shake It Out’ by Florence and the Machine. It always reminds me of the “devil on my back” (past losses) and motivates me to fight my butt off to keep them at bay.

2.  Back in 2010 when you were in school and training for the Olympic Games, how were you able to maintain the proper balance between training & studying?

Well actually, I graduated in 2010 so I was able to commit 100% of my time to training for London. But I started college in 2010 while I was making my 2008 run, during which I trained full time. I am in a similar situation now, training for the 2016 Olympics while pursuing my Master’s degree. For me it’s all about prioritizing. I always make sure my homework and studying is just as much a priority as training by dedicating time to it before anything else. I think Judo is one of the hardest things to do so I don’t allow something like getting good grades get the best of me, That includes giving it all I’ve got even if that means late nights in the library and missing out on socializing.

3.  Was there an athlete or person you admired or strived to be like? If you never became a judo player, what do you think you would have become instead?

I always admired players like Mike Swain and Jimmy Pedro growing up as they were the top players in the U.S. when I was a kid. I cannot even begin to speculate what I might have become if I had never done Judo. My earliest memories all begin on the tatami and have shaped me into the person I am. I’m sure that I would have been hardworking as my parents have always set that example for me. But I know my character would have suffered. Doing Judo took me away from the small town I grew up in and made me much more worldly and aware of my potential. I don’t care to predict what I may have become otherwise as where Judo has brought me has been enough for me.

4.  If you could compete in any other sport/martial art aside from Judo what would it be?

I wanted to do track and field in high-school to supplement my Judo till I realized it would constitute running ridiculous amounts of miles every day. We play a game called Piggy at San Jose State that is very similar to Handball and I think that would be something I would really enjoy.

5.  What was the worst injury you've ever suffered in judo (practice or competition), how long did it take to recover and how did you rehabilitate it?

I herniated a disc in my lower back a few years back and that took me out of Judo for 6 months. It was torturous not being able to do Judo for so long but through some intense physical therapy I came back 100%. I also sustained a pretty serious injury to my shoulder just before the 2012 Olympics but with enough rest and again intense physical therapy and rehab I was back to Judo in a few months as well.

6.  How long have you been doing Judo?

This August will be 22 years :)

7.  What is it you like about judo?

I like the prospect of waking up everyday and trying to become better at it. We have all seen those older Judo players that have been doing Judo their whole life and still show up to practices to perfect their waza. It’s quite incredible all the things that go into being good at it and one can spend their entire lifetime trying to improve. It instill’s a work ethic and strength of character that is paramount to anything I have experienced. I also find things like uchi-komi, nage-komi and randori to be very therapeutic and I look forward to doing them. Doing something that is physically trying, methodical, and that requires a intense mental focus is very satisfying for me.

8.  What’s your favorite technique?

My favorite technique in newaza is juji-gatame and my favorite techniques in tachi-waza are foot sweeps, seoi-nage and sode.

9.  What has been your highlight so far?

Obviously taking an Olympic bronze medal in 2012. But one of my biggest highlights of recent was taking a silver medal at the Tokyo Grand Slam in 2013. I actually attended the tournament as a spectator when I was 16 and was so enthralled. I could only dream of being able to compete at such a high level one day and win a major tournament in Japan, the birthplace of Judo.  Although I took silver I was so thrilled to have finally come full circle and have accomplished something I wasn’t sure I would ever have the ability to do.

10.  What has been your low ebb so far?

No one has ever asked me that before...I would have to say that my lowest point didn’t have to do with losing a match but with losing someone you love. My older brother Francis passed away a few weeks before the Tokyo World Championships in 2010 and I can say now it was the lowest part of my life and career. He bragged to his friends and anyone who would listen that I was going to be an Olympic champion one day, when I was still just a kid. He made me my first screen-name ‘Judostar’ and even bought me a coin off of Ebay right after the site launched, that was used at a previous Olympics as a bus token. He told me I could use it to ride the bus when I went to the Games. I always say that you should strive to be the best and accomplish your goals for no one but yourself but after he passed I realized that his belief in me was one of my main motivations all along. Coming to terms with the fact that I was now going at it alone in a way, was very difficult.

11.  What advice have you got for our junior judoka?

Fight often! The only true test of everything you train and practice in the dojo is it’s application in a real life situation. It’s the best way to determine your strengths and weaknesses and return to training and make adjustments.

12.  What advice have you got for our senior judoka?

See question 11!

13.  What kind of foods do you like and eat what foods do you avoid?

I absolutely love seafood, Mexican food, Indian Food, Japanese food, well basically all food! My ultimate favorite is lasagna though. I dislike: tomatoes, white rice, peas and lima beans. I am not big on strange textures and avoid things that feel weird.

14.  How did you train for competitions?

Training for competition involves a yearly plan that my trainer makes for me that utilizes weight training (3x a week), running/sprinting/tabata (4-5x a week), and has me peaking for competitions. I also do Judo 6 days a week.