Olympic-bound Filipina gymnast thankful for saying yes to Philippines
When Aleah Finnegan failed to advance to the United States Olympic trials three years ago and eventually kissed her Tokyo Games chances goodbye, the Filipino-American artistic gymnast from Missouri thought her Olympic dream was over.
October 3, 2023 | 12:57pm
MANILA, Philippines – When Aleah Finnegan failed to advance to the United States Olympic trials three years ago and eventually kissed her Tokyo Games chances goodbye, the Filipino-American artistic gymnast from Missouri thought her Olympic dream was over.
Until she got a call from the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines asking her if she wants to represent the country and continue her Olympic pursuit.
Her answer was yes.
It was a momentous decision that resulted in the 20-year-old Finnegan achieving her Olympic dream after she recently qualified to next year’s Paris Games via a strong performance in the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
There, the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist placed 32nd in the two-day individual all-around qualifications after amassing 51.366 points that proved enough to book her a ticket to Paris.
Finnegan, whose mother Linabelle was born and raised in the Philippines, thus joined pole-vaulter and Hangzhou Asian Games gold winner EJ Obiena and fellow gymnast and two-time world titlist Carlos Yulo as the Philippines’ first three Olympic entrants.
It was also historic since Finnegan became the first Filipina gymnast journey to the Olympics since Evelyn Magluyan and Maria Luisa Floro competed in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
“It’s a dream come true,” said an emotional Finnegan in an interview at Olympics.com. “I’ve been wanting to go to the Olympics since I knew what the Olympics were.”
“I’m just so thankful for the Philippines for giving me this opportunity that I would never have been able to take otherwise,” she added.
She made the cut after placing sixth among those whose teams did not qualify for the Olympics.
In all, Finnegan, who made it to Antwerp after a bronze effort in the Asian Championships in Singapore last June, had 13 in vault (18th), 12.433 in uneven bars (73rd), 12.7 in balance beam (38th), and 12.833 in floor exercise (34th).