Fil-Am gymnast Finnegan makes mother proud with SEA Games feat

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2022 03:15 PM

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Aleah Finnegan (@aleahfinn)

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-American gymnast Aleah Finnegan emerged as one of the breakout stars of Team Philippines in the 31st Southeast Asian Games, as she won two gold medals in her very first competition for the country.

The 19-year-old Finnegan previously competed for the United States but confirmed earlier this year that she will be representing the Philippines.

"There was a lot of discussion, a lot of what-ifs," said Finnegan, who also competes in collegiate gymnastics for Louisiana State University (LSU). "I wasn't really sure exactly what I wanted to do."

"But then, last March, I was able to kind of put my foot down and be like, this is what I wanna do," she said on ANC's "Headstart," Thursday morning.

In competing for the Philippines, Finnegan is not only embracing her heritage but also making her mother, Linabelle, proud. She traces her roots to Manila, with her mother moving to the United States for college.

"I think it was more so the amount of support that I had gotten from the Philippines, along with my mom and having her ties here," Finnegan said on what convinced her to switch federations. "I really just wanted to make her and make the rest of my family proud."

Indeed, Finnegan immediately displayed her quality in the SEA Games in Hanoi, as she led the Filipinas to the gold medal in the team event, while grabbing the silver in the individual all-around. She also won gold in the vault and silver in the balance beam, for a total of four medals in her SEA Games debut.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Aleah Finnegan (@aleahfinn)

"I'm really just proud to be able to represent the Philippines," said Finnegan, who trained at LSU before the SEA Games and was accompanied by one of her collegiate coaches in Hanoi.

"It was lots of stressful training, [because] I still had to balance my studies as well. However, I was able to kind of manage all of that, and be able to be here," she said.

Making the SEA Games experience all the more special for Finnegan is that she got to compete alongside Tokyo Olympian Carlos Yulo, who has been the toast of Team Philippines in Vietnam after winning a whopping five gold medals.

While Finnegan did not get the chance to ask Yulo for advice, she has been following the Filipino dynamo's career for a while and was thrilled to be part of the same national team as the world champion.

"I was really so honored to meet him," she said. "I watched him go to the 2019 World Championships, and I was just kind of following along in his journey throughout gymnastics."

"It was really so cool to be competing with him," she added.

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