Olympics Recap: Gymnast from Flower Mound

Emma Malabuyo represents Flower Mound at the Tokyo Olympics


Photo via Instagram @emma_malabuyo

Fatima Jafri, Staff Writer

The stands may have been almost empty at the Tokyo Olympics, but those performances and difficult routines didn’t go unnoticed. Eighteen year old Sunisa Lee became the first Asian American to win the gold medal in gymnastics. The all-around famous gymnast Simone Biles valued her mental health and returned proudly with a bronze medal. Seventeen year old Lydia Jacoby became the youngest Olympian to win gold in swimming. More importantly, Flower Mound was represented in the Olympics through resident Emma Malabuyo, one of the ten athletes representing the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team in the Tokyo Olympics as one of four alternates. 

“I’m proud of everything Emma worked through to get to this point. There were so many hurdles for her yet she found a way to get through them. I remember the day at the gym when she hyperextended her leg on her last tumbling pass and had to get surgery right before a big competition” says senior and former gymnast Samanta Lopez. 

After her accident, Malbuyo considered giving it all up. It was difficult for her to continue through a traumatic experience and the fear of hurting herself again. “I actually was about to quit this year,” she said. “I was really hard on myself and thought, maybe my body just can’t do elite gymnastics anymore. Maybe I’m not good enough.” says Malabuyo. 

Furthermore, the gymnast had yet another obstacle getting in her way. . .COVID-19. Lopez remarks, “when the pandemic started, all of the gymnasts were at home doing zoom calls to maintain their conditioning, and it was hard for everyone to have to put training on hold for such a long time (gymnastics at a competitive level is all year around). The point is the mental and physical barriers Emma had to tackle were huge, yet she proved that when there’s a will there’s a way. It was devastating for her but to see her bounce back even stronger was a reminder that hard work does pay off”. It is amazing to see Malabuyo’s support system and self-belief which prompted her to become a Team USA alternate and now a UCLA Bruin. “I’ve learned from Emma that you need to surround yourself with people that will help you and cheer you on. I am her neighbor, and on her lawn there were signs of encouragement leading up to the Olympic trials and all the way until she got back from Tokyo. The entire neighborhood was cheering her on which just goes to show how important a support system is” says Lopez. 

There are days where life gets difficult and people often think about giving up. But after going through many struggles, at the age of only eighteen, Emma Malabuyo inspires many teenagers around the world that through failure and perseverance, great things can be achieved.  “Everything is not always going to turn out the way you envision it sometimes,” Malabuyo said. “It’s not perfect and that is okay”.