YOKOHAMA, JAPAN — Emma Malabuyo of Flower Mound finished an unforgettable season at last weekend’s Junior Japan International, the most prestigious international competition in the world for junior elite gymnasts, where she won a medal on all five events.
The 14-year-old, who trains at Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell, hit every event to take home two bronze medals, two silver medals, and the gold on floor in a deep international field that also included the top junior gymnasts from Russia, China, Romania, and Japan, as well as Malabuyo’s U.S. teammate, Maile O’Keefe of Las Vegas, Nev.
In the all-around competition, Malabuyo overcame some minor faults on the uneven bars and the balance beam to finish strong, qualifying into both event finals despite the mistakes, and she also posted the top scores of the day on vault and floor to finish second all-around with a score of 55.600, just half a point behind her teammate, O’Keefe, who took the gold.
Malabuyo and O’Keefe were the only two gymnasts to qualify into every event final, and the pair also ended up medaling in every final. Malabuyo tied for the silver on beam and won the bronze on vault and bars, showing some of her strongest performances on all three events and finishing just a tenth or two behind the gold medalist in all instances in what was an incredibly tight race.
Floor was where Malabuyo dominated, winning the gold a half point ahead of O’Keefe with a 14.066, making her undefeated this season in floor finals after also winning the titles domestically at the U.S. Classic in July and at U.S. Championships in August in addition to getting gold on the event at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy this April.
Despite her young age, Malabuyo’s scores on floor are among the best in the world, making her competitive with senior-level gymnasts. With an effortless balance between powerful tumbling, perfect dance elements, and clever, entertaining choreography, Malabuyo is always a crowd favorite on floor, and managed to steal the show in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Japan.
Malabuyo, who turns 15 in November, will transition to the senior level of elite competition in 2018, making the Junior Japan International her final meet as a junior. Her junior career included three national team berths and 16 international medals, and as she continues into the senior field beginning in January, she will join Texas Dreams teammate Ragan Smith, the 2016 Olympic alternate and a member of the 2017 U.S. world championships team, as one of the top gymnasts in the country.
About Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Texas Dreams Gymnastics has a long history of training the nation’s most talented gymnasts.
Owners Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and Chris Burdette and their staff operate from an enormous
36,000 square-foot arena. Zmeskal-Burdette is the USA’s first world champion gymnast, and is
also an Olympic medalist and International Hall of Fame member.
Texas Dreams is renowned for innovated and inspired coaching and training in all gymnastics
trends and techniques. The gym has a record of developing talented athletes at every age level, and has a history of placing elite gymnasts on the U.S. national team every year. For more information about Texas Dreams, please visit www.texasdreams.com or call