RIO DE JANEIRO -- American Marti Malloy suffered an early-round upset in the women's 57-kilogram class Monday, ending her dreams of medaling in judo for the second consecutive Olympics.
Malloy fell to Lien Chen-Ling of Taiwan in a hard-fought, probing match that was decided by shido -- the tiebreaker that factors in minor penalties and periods of nonaggression.
"I felt like the fight started off really well," said Malloy, tearful once the match was over. "I was getting good grips and more attacks off than her. I know that I did one attack that was kind of questionable, but I didn't think it deserved a penalty. I feel like I pushed the pace more than her, and I thought she would possibly get another penalty, too, to tie it up. Instead, I got one."
After winning bronze in London and continuing her rise through the 57-kilogram world rankings, Malloy was one of the favorites for a medal. "I imagined myself taking nothing but gold up until now," she said. "I never imagined anything but gold. But that's a dangerous thing to do because if you don't imagine any other outcome, when that outcome happens..."
She didn't need to say more. The disappointment was obvious as she wiped tears from her eyes while leaving the press area.
Chen-Ling hadn't been considered a favorite, but she continued winning after beating the third-seeded Malloy, who had a first-round bye, in the round of 16. Chen-Ling ended up fighting for a bronze medal but lost to Japan's Kaori Matsumoto.
Watching Malloy's match from the second-level stands at the Carioca Arena was her 96-year-old mentor, Yoshihiro Uchida, who arrived in Rio early Monday morning, just hours before the competition began. Uchida left for Rio from San Francisco on Saturday morning. Flight delays and missed connections turned his journey into a 48-hour haul.
"Marti didn't look right," said Uchida, offering a straightforward assessment of the match while also underscoring how proud he is of his 30-year-old student. "She was not precise like the other times she would be behind [and] her tactics were real precise and she would catch up."
Uchida smiled and said he would like to try to make it to the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020, when he would be 100 years old. Tokyo has special significance for Uchida. His parents were born in Japan, and Uchida was the U.S. coach at the 1964 Olympic Games. He also helped judo become an Olympic sport that year.
After the loss, Malloy said she plans to continue competing for another year, taking her through the 2017 world championships in Budapest, Hungary, but wouldn't commit beyond that. But Uchida held out hope that she'd make it to Tokyo, with or without him.
"I am sure she will" be there, he said. He had yet to speak privately with Malloy and offer encouragement, but he was looking forward to it. "I will just hug her and say, 'Marti, I hope you got all of your tears out now so we can sit down and talk and see what the future looks like.'"
Later Monday, Brazil's Rafaela Silva provided one of Rio's peak emotional moments when she dominated Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia to win the host country's first gold medal. Silva's victory sparked a raucous celebration inside the arena -- fans cheering, singing and stomping as she joyfully leaped into the stands and the arms of supporters.