Reigning Olympic champion Kayla Harrison continued her winning ways on the Road to Rio by taking the gold medal Sunday at the judo grand prix event in Budapest, Hungary. Marti Malloy, bronze medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, also scored a bronze medal at the meet. Both will compete on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Judo Team.
Harrison, a dominant world No. 1 in the 78 kg. division, rolled through her three matches, winning two by ippon. She dispatched Slovenia’s Klara Apotekar, ranked No. 52 in the world, in just 12 seconds, then scored her second ippon of the meet in 3:29 against No. 32-ranked Karen Stevenson of the Netherlands. That led to the gold-medal match against No. 8-ranked Anamari Velensek of Slovenia. The bout went the full four minutes, with Harrison taking the win with a yuko.
In the 57 kg. division, Malloy, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, won her opener against Germany’s Sappho Coban with an ippon just eight seconds into the contest, but then lost an upset to Japan’s Momo Tamaoki, ranked No. 40 in the world. Pushed into the repechage, she came out on top against another German, Johanna Mueller, to win the bronze.
Since becoming the first American, male or female, to win an Olympic gold medal in judo, Harrison has been a juggernaut on the international scene. She was named the Team USA Awards Female Athlete of the Month for May when she won the World Masters event in Guadalajara, Mexico, becoming the first American judoka to win two golds in a World Masters event. Since her win in London, she has filled her trophy cabinet with 12 golds, five silvers and four bronzes in international competition.
Malloy has been solid since London as well, winning the past three Pan American championships as well as the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
The judo grand prix series continues with two more stops prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games: July 1-3 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and July 16-17 in Tyumen, Russia.