By Anna Rose Johnson

Emma Malabuyo is one of the brightest rising stars for Team USA. Coached by Kim Zmeskal-Burdette at Texas Dreams, Malabuyo has won nine international gold medals and countless medals at national meets, including gold on floor exercise in the junior division at the 2017 U.S. Championships

Feature Photo by Grace Chiu

With crowd-pleasing floor routines and high-flying vaults, Emma Malabuyo is definitely one to watch in the lead-up to 2018 Worlds — and, of course, Tokyo 2020. In this Q&A, the gifted first-year senior discusses her gymnastics goals, training with Kim and the 2018 season.

Inside Gymnastics: Could you give us a brief overview of your competitive career so far?

Emma Malabuyo: So far my competitive career as an elite has been very exciting. I’m really thankful that I’ve had opportunities to compete internationally. I qualified as an elite in 2015 and went on my first international assignment in March 2016 (Gymnix International). I then competed at Jesolo the next month.  In 2017, I competed at Gymnix, Jesolo and Junior Japan.  All of these assignments have been a great experience, and I was able to learn something new at each of these competitions.

Inside: Are you looking forward to your first season as a senior competitor?

Emma: Yes, I am really looking forward to competing as a senior. I am also a little nervous because it will be a new level for me.

Inside: How is your training going currently?

Emma: Training has been going at a good pace so far this year. It’s been nice to work on upgrades and challenge myself in the gym.

Inside: Are you working on any upgrades for 2018?

Emma: YES! I can’t wait to compete them this year.

Inside: When will your next competition be?

Emma: My next competition will be the Jesolo Trophy in Italy next month on April 15, 2018.

Inside: What is it like to train at Texas Dreams with 1991 World Champion Kim Zmeskal-Burdette?

Emma: Training with Kim makes me push myself to do my best. She accomplished so much as a gymnast, so she has very high expectations. She understands when I am having a hard day in the gym, and she teaches me how to reset and handle the pressure. I like knowing that she has been through the same things that I go through in gymnastics. I have a lot of trust in her, and she has helped me achieve a lot of my goals so far.

Inside: What’s your favorite apparatus?

Emma: I would probably say that my favorite apparatus right now is beam. It does change between floor and beam though.

Inside: What are your long-term gymnastics goals? Are you aiming for Tokyo 2020?

Emma: Making the Tokyo 2020 team is my biggest goal. I would also like to make a World team.

Inside: What are some of your favorite competition memories?

Emma: My first competition in Italy in 2016 is one of my favorites. I got to travel and compete with Team USA members like Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez. It was an incredible experience to learn so much from those girls. I also had so much fun at the 2017 Junior Japan. I loved the culture and all the gymnasts that I got to meet.

Inside: I really love your fun and artistic floor routines; do you incorporate artistry/dance training into your regular gymnastics training?

Emma: Yes, every week I work on my floor routine with my dance teacher, Ani. She teaches me new dances, and we also work on ballet. Once a month, my choreographer Dominic [Zito] comes and works with me also.

Inside: Are you excited to pursue NCAA gymnastics at UCLA? Do you think you might go pro in the future?

Emma: I am super excited to compete in NCAA gymnastics. I know it will be so much fun being part of the UCLA team. I haven’t really thought about going pro in the future.

Video via USA Gymnastics

Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com