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Olympics: Passion for judo pays off

Ex-Olympian to coach U.S. squad in Athens

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

By Shelly Anderson, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

It's obvious Marisa Pedulla is serious about her career. She earned a bachlor's degree and Ph.D. from Pitt and now is coordinator of the Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute in the university's department of biological sciences.

If it is her first passion, judo is a close second.

"And many times it's probably my first passion," said Pedulla, of Brentwood. "It's just a great outlet."

The sport has taken her all over the world and in 1996 took her to the Olympics in Atlanta, where she finished seventh in her weight class. She retired from competition in 1997, but judo is taking her back to the Olympics.

Pedulla, 34, has been named one of four coaches for the United States team for the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. "It's going to be fantastic," she said.

Pedulla, a Yodan, or fourth-degree black belt, already knows most of the athletes who are expected to make the team after the Olympic trials in June 2004. She has had coaching assignments with the national team the past few years, including the Pan-American Games and the world championships.

She also coaches one of the contenders, Christina Pro, who is ranked No. 3 in the nation at 48 kilograms.

Pro trains at the South Hills Judo Club, which Pedulla and her husband, Dean Markovitz, run and have recently turned into a nonprofit venture. They coach athletes of various ages and skill levels and hope to begin procuring grants to help troubled children by getting them involved in judo.

When she competed, Pedulla trained with her personal coach, Colleen Murphy, at the same club.

To juggle her two occupations, work and coaching judo, next year, Pedulla might have to work overtime at Pitt and take a short leave or two for the trials, training camp and the Games, but it will be worth it.

"Judo is outstanding, phenomenal," she said. "You lay it all out there on the mat."

Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.

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