OAK HARBOR -- Twenty-six-year-old Marti Malloy of Oak Harbor is just the second American woman ever to win an Olympic medal in judo. She won bronze Monday in her very first Olympic Games with a decisive pin against her opponent from Italy. She competed in the 57 kg category.
Her first sensei, George Morse, remembers how he knew she was special the first time she came for instruction at age six. He said she did exactly as she was taught: bow, grip and throw.
"Any judo sensei who got a student like her would feel really lucky," said Morse, now 86. Marti trained with Morse for about a dozen years at NAS Whidbey before going off to college at San Jose State, which has a reknown judo program. On a return visit, Morse recalls giving Marti a playful pull. He said she gripped and threw.
"Whoosh!" he laughed. "I felt like I was flying. She has quite a pull. Don't get mixed up in it!"
"She won bronze! We are so proud!" beamed Suni MacLean, Morse's daughter. She said the entire Morse family watched Marti's match streamed over the Internet.
"We ached with her at every fall, every tear that came down we cried with her," said Gayelen Fry, another Morse daughter. "Every cheer with the crowd, we cheered along. Even dad said he felt every muscle was sore because he was moving with her while she was competing!"
Prior to the Olympics, MacLean wrote articles in the local newspaper encouraging islanders to donate so the Malloy family could go to London and cheer Marti on. Marti's two brothers are also black belts in judo.
After the medal ceremony, Malloy reflected on how she felt.
"It's the weirdest sensation. Absolute complete shock. Not because I didn't think I could do it, but in the manner that I did it, so decisively. I was completely shocked but at the exact same time, I was entirely ecstatic," she said.
Congressman Rick Larsen (D) Oak Harbor wrote Marti a congratulatory message ending, "Just remind me not to cross her."