(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) lived up to everyone's expectations on Friday when she won the silver medal at the World Championships in the 70kg division and became the first American woman to medal at a Worlds since 1995.
After moving up from 63kg earlier this year, Rousey's day included wins over the #3-ranked player in the world, an Olympic medalist and the reigning World Champion.
"I've always had this in mind ever since I was kid. My mother won Worlds in 1984 and that's always been my goal, so I'm a little disappointed not to have won, but I'm happy to have medaled for the first time," Rousey said. "A lot of people didn't expect me to [medal] because I just moved up from 63kg so I'm happy with that."
Rousey won her first three preliminary matches to advance to the semifinal against reigning World Champion Edith Bosch (NED).
Rousey previously beat Bosch at the German Open last month, but found herself behind in this match when Bosch threw her for a yuko (quarter-point) with a harai (hip throw). Bosch was given a penalty for stalling in the last two minutes and Rousey increased her attacks, ultimately throwing her for ippon with a reverse sode (sleeve throw).
In the final match, 2005 World silver medalist Gevrise Emane (FRA) threw Rousey for two yukos with the referees giving the second to Rousey first before taking it away and giving it to Emane. In the final minute, Emane received a penalty for stalling. With seven seconds remaining, Emane ran from Rousey and received a second penalty to give Rousey a yuko score, but she lost the match two yukos to one.
Rousey's silver medal win is the first World medal for a U.S. woman since Liliko Ogasawara won a bronze medal in 1995 and the first medal of any kind since her new coach Jimmy Pedro (Methuen, Mass.) won the 1999 World Championships.
"For a while there, I was training on my own and jumping from place to place, so it was a really sad time for me," Rousey said. "But a lot of people have really been great in helping me, including USA Judo my coach Jimmy Pedro and my teammates because all of that's what motivates you to get out of bed and run and train every day."
In her first match, Rousey defeated reigning Asian Champion Asuka Oka (JPN) in her first match of the 70kg division, throwing her for a yuko score three minutes into the match and again for a waza-ari (half-point) in the last 50 seconds.
In her next match, Rousey threw two-time World and Olympic medalist Ylenia Scapin (ITA) for a waza-ari just over a minute into the match and, though she received a penalty in the final minute for stalling, Scapin was still scoreless.
In the quarter-finals, Rousey matched up against Mayra Aguiar (BRA), the teenager who she beat in the final minute of the Pan Am Games here in July. This time Rousey used her much acclaimed groundwork skills to take her to the mat and pin Aguiar mid-way through the match.
After moving up from 57kg, Marti Malloy (San Jose , Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) won the first two matches in the 63kg division at her first World Championships.
Malloy had an uneventful first two minutes with Ok Song Hong (PRK) until she threw Hong for a yuko to take a lead that she would hold on to for the remainder of the match. Malloy threw Madeline Choconta (COL), who was down by a trio of penalties, with a taio toshi for waza-ari to advance to the third round.
In the third round, Malloy was down by a fourth minute penalty when top-ranked Urska Zolnir (SLO) scored a yuko. Zolnir was penalized as well, but won the match.
Zolnir advanced to the semifinals, bring Malloy into the loser's pool where she defeated Paulina Rainczuk (POL) by ippon, but lost to Anna Von Harnier (GER) to place ninth overall.
Travis Stevens (Glenville , N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 81kg) threw Eddie Cooper (SOL) 30 seconds into first match in the 81kg division.
In his next round, Stevens lost by a yuko to Giuseppe Maddaloni (ITA), 2000 Olympic Champion at 73kg.
Rick Hawn (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 90kg) was thrown for a waza-ari in the first 30 seconds of his match against Ramzido Saidov (UZB). Saidov was given a penalty with 20 seconds left, but Hawn couldn't produce a score big enough to overcome his early throw deficit.
Competition continues on Saturday with the men's 66kg and 73kg divisions and the women's 52kg and 57kg divisions.