Rousey Is 1st U.S. Woman to Earn A Medal in Judo

By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 14, 2008

A few minutes after Ronda Rousey became the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo, she was asked what she would do next.

"What am I gonna do?" she repeated after capturing a bronze medal. "As of right now I am a vegan. I put that off until after I was done with this tournament."

Some athletes go to Disney World; Rousey gives up dairy products.

"And then I'm gonna go home and I'm probably gonna take over the loan on my stepdad's Prius and I'm gonna drive a clean car," she said. "And I'm gonna get a surfboard and learn how to surf, teach myself. I made up this long list of stuff that I couldn't do while I was training that normal people do. It's kind of too late to go to prom, but you know, I'll find something to make up for it."

Rousey's history-making day in the 70kg (154-pound) competition was marked by a thoroughly odd mix of drama and comedy. At one point she dissolved in tears after losing to 2005 Dutch world champion Edith Bosch. A reporter later asked her how she recovered from that disappointment to rally in the losers' bracket; "I drank an iced tea," she said.

After her win by yuko in the bronze medal match, she enthusiastically hugged every coach on her team; she was later asked to describe her winning throw.

"Don't ask me about terminology, I'm horrible," she said. "You're supposed to learn all that stuff to get promoted, but I never did."

She talked happily about her plans to go out in Beijing tonight, and then ran off to get the flag that was placed on her father's coffin after he committed suicide while battling a blood disorder 13 years ago this week.

None of her quirks is exactly hidden, thanks to her blog, where she has revealed that she sleeps with a stuffed ewe, is turned off when she can beat up a guy easily, looks like Julia Stiles, dances naked in her living room every morning and eats imitation crab meat like string cheese. Her mom -- a former U.S. world champion judoka with a doctorate in education psychology -- has a blog, too.

"We're kind of a geeky tech family," AnnMaria De Mars said. "When I married Ronda's dad, instead of an engagement ring he got me an engagement Macintosh."

And then there's the vegan-mixed martial arts thing. A reporter asked De Mars how a vegan lifestyle would square with such a violent sport as judo. "I mean, we're tough but we don't kill our opponents and eat them," she said.

Rousey, 21, plans to take a year off from competition to try college, at either Southern Cal, Pepperdine or Loyola Marymount. She said she still might try to return for the 2012 Olympics. Of course, several of Rousey's close friends from the competitive judo world have gone into mixed martial arts -- Manny Gamburyan and Roman Mitichyan, for example -- and they've asked her to try that as well. She's thinking about it.

"I might learn how to throw a punch, but I'm not making any promises," she said. She was asked whether she'd have the guts for that brand of fighting. "Look at my face, does it look like I can take a good hit right now?" she replied, pointing to her red and battered cheeks.

De Mars, though, still needs some convincing.

"She's really smart, see that's the thing," De Mars said. "I think if you're really, really smart and you could maybe discover a new drug that cures AIDS or something you should go and do that, and let other people punch each other in the face."

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