Aleah Finnegan, a 20-year-old Filipino-American artistic gymnast, has secured her spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics after a stellar performance at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. Finnegan placed 32nd in the all-around qualifications with 51.366 points, enough to earn one of the 14 individual berths to Paris.
Finnegan, who was born in Missouri and competed for the United States from 2019 to 2021, switched her allegiance to the Philippines in 2022 to honor her mother’s heritage and her late father, who passed away in 2019. She made her debut for the Philippines at the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, where she won two gold and two silver medals. She also bagged two bronze medals at the 2023 Asian Championships in Singapore.
“I’m just so thankful for the Philippines for giving me this opportunity that I would never have been able to take otherwise,” Finnegan said in an interview with Olympics.com.
“Just to be here honoring my family, the Philippines, and honoring my dad who is in heaven, and all the people who put in so many sacrifices for me to be here, it is really just a dream come true,” she added.
Finnegan is the third Filipino gymnast to qualify for the Paris Olympics, joining Carlos Yulo and EJ Obiena, who both earned their tickets through the 2019 World Championships. She is also the first female gymnast from the Philippines to compete in the Olympics since Evelyn Magluyan and Maria Luisa Floro in the 1964 Tokyo edition.
Finnegan will compete in the all-around finals on October 5 as the second reserve, after China’s Ou Yushan and Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade withdrew due to injuries. She will also have a chance to qualify for the individual apparatus finals on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise.
The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, which started on September 30 and will end on October 8, is the biggest gymnastics event of the year and serves as a qualifying event for the Paris Olympics. The top nine teams from both men’s and women’s events will automatically qualify for Paris, while the remaining spots will be determined by individual rankings and continental championships.