London, England – Marti Malloy picked up a bronze medal on Monday in the women's 57kg judo competition.
Malloy won by ippon at the 2:34 mark of her match with Italian Giulia Quintavalle, a 2008 gold medal winner in Beijing. The 26-year-old and former two-time world cup winner was making her Olympic debut.
"It's been a very long day. I had a couple of ippon and I felt really focused. I peaked for this tournament. It's my first Olympics and I feel fantastic to be leaving with the bronze," she said after grabbing only the second Olympic medal for a female U.S. judoka.
Malloy was denied a chance at gold due to a semifinals loss to Romanian Corina Caprioriu, who in turn dropped her finals match to Kaori Matsumoto of Japan. Matsumoto, a 2010 world champion, was also partaking in her first Olympics.
"My biggest goal of my life is to win the gold medal, so I'm relieved with that," Matsumoto said. "I mean, just after I won the match, I was in great pleasure and now it changed into a relief."
Japan had never before won gold in this event.
Also taking bronze in the 57kg was France's Automne Pavia, who got the best of Hungary's Hedvig Karakas.
In a wide-open men's 76kg, Mansur Isaev knocked off a pair of favorites to claim gold. The Russian first scored a semifinals win over South Korea's Wang Ki-Chun, who had won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Isaev then faced reigning world champion Riki Nakaya of Japan and came away with the gold.
"As soon as I started judo as a child I always knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be," said the Russian. "Today my coach didn't have to tell me anything. I was ready for today. It's taken a long time so I was ready for today."
Bronze medals in the men's event went to France's Ugo Legrand and Mongolia's Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal.