Judo: Martin has sights set on 2016 Games
Hannah Martin’s numbers are impressive.
In just two years, the graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High school has risen from No. 110 in the international judo rankings to No. 10.
But numbers aren’t what motivates Martin, who trains at the Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville. She’s inspired by one color — gold.
After failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, Martin, 25, has amped up her training regimen and is now focused on the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I would not be where I am today without the help and support from my parents [Rebekah and Rich], the New York Athletic Club, all of my JMJC teammates and the guidance from my coaches, Jason Morris and Teri Takemori,” Martin said,
Martin was the U,S, Open champion and Olympic Alternate in the under-57kg (125.5bs) division in 2008, but began to struggle when she had to move up to the under-63kg division (138.8lbs) in 2011.
After moving up to her new weight class, Martin had limited success, going 0-1 at almost every event in the 2011 season. Her only medal victory was claiming the U.S. Open title. Martin soon realized her journey to the 2012 Olympic Games in London was coming to an end when she lost in the first round in Paris and Hungary, and did not qualify for the 2012 Pan American championship team.
Martin was ranked No. 110 in the world at that time. To qualify for the Olympics, athletes need to be ranked in the top 14 for women and top 22 for men. It was then that she decided to step her focus on training and improving to move toward 2016.
Martin started rising on the international scene in in May 2012 at the Miami World Cup, where she earned her first international bronze medal at 63kg. From there she would move on to El Salvador to win her first World Cup title and claim the No. 1 spot on the USA rankings roster.
Later that summer, she was the only American to travel to Argentina, where she made it the final, barely losing to the No. 1 ranked Brazilian, Katherine Campos. Martin continued to stay persistent and climb the world rankings. In one year she went from being No. 110 in the word to No. 28.
The 2013 season started off in Paris, where Martin went head to head with 2010 world champion Morgane Ribout of France. The scores were tied, and in the last 30 seconds, Martin was penalized for a leg grab — a new rule that was just introduced into the sport that year.
“That match helped set the pace for the 2013 competition season,” Martin said. “It made me think, ‘Hey, maybe I can hang with the best of the best.’ ”
After the European tour, Martin traveled down to South America and picked up a bronze medal in Uruguay, then won a Silver medal in Argentina, which moved her to a career-high No. 24 ranking.
A few weeks later, Martin competed in the U.S. Nationals, won the 63kg title for a second straight year and once again solidifying her No. 1 spot in the U.S.
A week after Nationals, Martin traveled to Costa Rica for the Pan American Championships. This was the first time that Martin qualified for the Pan American Championships, and posted a 3-1 record to take home the bronze medal. This result moved her up five slots on the world rankings, putting her at No. 19.
Martin also helped the U.S. women’s team capture its first-ever Pan American team gold, winning a tight battle against Campos in the semifinals and then defeating Andrea Gutierrez of Mexico in the finals in under 30 seconds via arm-bar submission.
After returning home from her successful Pan American appearance, Martin received an invitation from the International Judo Federation to compete at the World Masters in Tyumen, Russia. This event is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the judo world circuit. The top 16 players in each weight category are invited to compete at this event.
A day before leaving for the World Masters, Martin decided to travel to Ontario to compete at the Ontario Open as a warm-up for the World Masters. Martin went 4-0 to capture the gold medal, throwing her opponent with an uchi-mata in the final.
Martin made the journey to Tyumen, but lost in the first round to Italy’s Edwige Gwend. She returned home to continue training for the summer tour. After winning a bronze medal in El Salvador, Martin was informed that she had officially qualified for her first World Championships.
The rest of the summer was spent training and prepping for the World Championships. At the last second, Martin and Morris decided that it would be a good opportunity to compete at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix in Mongolia. Martin was very hesitant to travel such a long distance and be the only American competing at this event. However, she listened to her coach’s advice and made the 14-hour journey to Mongolia, where she picked up her first Grand Prix bronze medal.
A month later, Martin made her debut at the 2013 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, placing ninth. Martin dominated in her first two matches, then moved on to fight France’s Gevirse Emane, a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. The match was a back-and-forth affair, with the score remaining tied before Martin picked up her third penalty and losing, 3-2.
After her ninth-place finish, Martin was ranked No. 14 in the world.
Two weeks after the World Championships, she traveled to Rijeka, Croatia, to compete at their first Grand Prix event. Martin had a disappointing seventh-place finish at that event and decided to sign up to compete in the Uzbekistan Grand Prix to redeem herself.
Martin made it all the way to the finals at the Uzbekistan Grand Prix, losing to Mariana Barros of Brazil, whom she had beaten in the semifinals in Argentina earlier this year. The silver medal finish put Martin at another career high of No. 11 in the world.
After Tashkent, Martin won golds at the Morris Cup and the Quebec Open. Her final tournament of the year was scheduled to be the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A week before the tournament, Martin injured her lower back during training and was thinking about cancelling her trip.
“I had already spent the money, and it was my last tournament of the year. Plus, I did not want to let myself or my coaches down, so I decided to roll the dice and take a chance.” Martin said.
Martin made it all the way to the semifinals, where she lost to the eventual champion, Kathrin Unterzwurzacher of Austria, placing her in the bronze-medal match against Mungunchimeg Baldorg of Mongolia, who is ranked No. 13 in the world.
“I kept in mind what my coach always says, ‘Don’t hope, make it happen.’ ” Martin said, “And then I threw her in the first five seconds for waza-ari [half-point] and then scored on her again for the bronze medal.“
That was her third Grand Prix medal of the year, and placed Martin No. 10 on the world ranking list. Even though the 2013 season is over, she is still working hard every day.
“I have learned a lot over the past few years, and I think one of the most important lessons I have learned is to listen to my coach, stay positive and to show up to the dojo every day with one goal in mind, and that is to be the best version of myself,” said Martin.