Olympians and their Emotions: Marti Malloy
Twenty years later, the four-time National Champion is an Olympian and will represent the United States of America at the 2012 London Olympic Games this summer. She took time out of her busy schedule to speak with Humintell about her training regime, how she prepares for competition and how she manages her emotions in stressful times.
Malloy first realized she wanted to go to the Olympics after she met former Judo World Champion Mike Swain and Olympian Sandy Bacher at a judo clinic. She was only 10 years old at the time, but the Olympic fire had been lit:
“I realized that this sport was something that you could go all the way with. As a kid it was jaw dropping. [I realized] That this wasn’t just a fun thing you do locally; You could go and win the World Championships. I wanted to do that too. I wanted to be the best.”
Today the 26 year old Olympian has a rigorous training schedule, sometimes doing three workouts a day in addition to working part-time as a receptionist to help pay the bills. She called the training “exhausting” but understands that it is necessary to achieve her goal of becoming an Olympic Medalist.
Motivating herself to do workouts or go to practice can be a daunting task, especially when she is tired, but Malloy has found a unique way to inspire herself. Instead of focusing on the negative feelings of how she doesn’t want to go to practice, she thinks about the positive feelings she’ll have once the workout is done. By simply shifting her attention from the negative to the positive, she gains the strength to jump over her emotional hurdles, a technique that seems useful to us “average Joes” as well.
Although Malloy describes feeling nervous, shaky and excited before most competitions, she has trained her mind and body to enjoy and embrace the experience rather than let it affect her performance.
“I try to think of that butterfly feeling as a good feeling”
Interestingly, Malloy says she feels more focused for tougher tournaments, such as the World Championships; therefore, she fights better. When the competition is not as important, she feels there’s more on the line and puts more pressure on herself, although this feeling differs from tournament to tournament.
Malloy knows all to well the feeling of “letting her emotions get to her”. In the past she describes the feeling as her mind running a mile a minute and not being able to focus on the game plan. When she stepped onto the mat, she felt like a deer in headlights.
The most helpful thing to Malloy in dealing with these feelings? Talking to herself and having a solid game plan are two strategies she employs to relax and calm her nerves.
Although the average person may not ever step onto an Olympic Judo mat, there are valuable words of advice that Malloy gives to others in dealing with their very emotional situations:
“Don’t focus on the things you can’t change. If there’s something you can do about it, you should do everything you can to change it. If there’s nothing you can do to change it, you have to move on”