A remarkable number of Flower Mound talents have shined a light on the town’s name with their extraordinary achievements in what they do. Emma Malabuyo is one such rising star who, at a young age, has established herself as an artistic gymnast. She is a five-time member of the U.S. national team and has earned a total of 25 medals for Team USA. She qualified as an elite gymnast in 2015.
Her magical strength of balance has rewarded this young athlete for being one of 10 players representing the US Women’s Gymnastics Team and traveling to the Tokyo Olympics as one of four alternates!
“Dreams do come true; I still can’t believe it!” she shared on her social media after being selected for the Olympics. “Since I was a little girl, I dreamt about going to the Olympics. Grateful for all the love and support from my family, friends, and coaches. I’m so thankful”, she also mentioned.
On Independence Day, in honor of celebrating the outstanding success of this 18-year-old, FM mayor Derek France presented her with a proclamation declaring July 4 as Emma Malabuyo Day in Flower Mound. It was a proud moment for Flower Mound people as they cheered for this historic announcement. On behalf of the town, mayor France wished all the best for her upcoming endeavors. Emma is training as an “all arounder” and can potentially get called for any or all gymnastics events in the Olympic games.
Born in Mountain View, California, Emma started gymnastics at the age of five and never looked back.
“I was really good at swinging across the monkey bars at two years old, so my parents signed me up at Little Gym,” she recalled. Everything looked perfect until an injury sidelined her sports journey at the peak of her career – not just once, but twice. It was in 2018 when she became eligible for senior competition.
“I had an injury in 2018, I also had surgery in 2019, and I couldn’t compete,” Emma mentioned. “I had to take a step back and look at how I can better myself even though I’m not doing gymnastics.”
That was the time when her sports spirit worked the most. It was a challenging phase. However, she was committed to conquering it.
“The last few years have been some of the toughest times, but I’m glad I didn’t give up,” she wrote in one of her Instagram posts. When she made a comeback, Emma was more confident and healthy. “I needed to show myself that I was strong and capable of being a true competitor again.”
In her difficult years, Emma got immense support and motivation from family, friends, coaches, and her healthcare team. All of them believed in her when she had doubts.
Malabuyo represents Texas Dreams Gymnastics, where Kim Zmeskal-Burdette is her head coach. Kim’s husband Chris Burdette is the assistant coach. Kim Zmeskal is a retired artistic gymnast and the 1991 World All-Around champion who has been coaching Malabuyo for the last eight years.
“I think her maturity and her experience and our connection over the last eight seasons has really helped to make this what she wants this to be,” Zmeskal told NBCDFW. Emma’s favorite events are uneven bars and balance beam, and she usually spends more than 30 hours a week working to polish her abilities and skills.
What is her favorite thing about gymnastics? Emma says the adrenaline rush of competition and working on new skills. That’s why she believes it’s the journey that she enjoys, and wins and medals are just secondary.
“It’s not about the scores. It’s not about this placement. It’s about how do you define your own success,” she said in an interview. She’s an avid learner.
Malabuyo loves to create fun videos on TikTok and YouTube and hang out with friends when not practicing. Sushi and pizza are her favorite food. This pop music lover’s most-liked book is The Hunger Games Series, and Math being her favorite school subject. Stranger Things and Riverdale are her favorite TV shows. Curious about what movie won Emma’s heart the most? It’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before!”
While Emma is working so hard to make the country proud, let’s continue cheering for her!
photos courtesy of Emma Malabuyo