TONAWANDA, N.Y. - When you think of a tough athlete, a 5' 1" gymnast may not be the image that immediately comes to mind. That is, until you meet Emily Battaglia.
She's been at it for 14 years, starting out at about the same age as the students she now teaches, but don't let that smile and good nature fool you, Emily is a fierce competitor. Case in point, just a year ago she broke her foot in three places.
She lost an entire competition season, but worked so hard to come back, she made it to the NY State Championships, with an eye on competing in the USA Gymnastics Regionals.
Well she won big at states, taking first in the all around, the floor, vault and bars. That earned her a trip to Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend. "Just a dream for me to be where i was" said the Buffalo Turners gymnast, who is also a junior at Sweet Home High School.
Her first event was the beam. It is the most challenging for her, the event she likes the least, and also the event she was competing in last year when she broke her foot. "I'm just the whole time praying, please stay on, please stay on, please stay on" said her father Russell Battaglia.
But 41 seconds into her routine, Emily misplaced her right foot and slipped, twisting her left foot under her. Emily broke the middle toe on her left foot, in the first event of her dream competition. " I was disappointed, but I just kind of brushed it off and got back up to do it." Emily finished her routine and pushed on to the floor exercise.
Battaglia said "It started to hurt me more and more as I went on, and my toe swelled up really badly." She kept going and finished her last two events, the vault and the bars. And on a broken toe, Emily not only finished all of her events, she brought home a medal for the vault, taking fourth against the best from 7 other states.