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PH gymnast Aleah Finnegan books Paris Olympics ticket

MANILA, Philippines, October 29 ------ For the first time in six decades, the Philippines will be represented by a female gymnast in the Olympics. Aleah Finnegan qualified for the Paris Games as one of the 14 highest-ranked eligible athletes in the women’s all-around qualification in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

Finnegan, who competes for the LSU Tigers in the US NCAA, finished 32nd in the all-around qualification with a total of 51.366 points, but she ended up fifth among eligible athletes to book her Paris ticket. Originally a member of the USA women’s gymnastics team, the 20-year-old Finnegan found her way to the Olympics just over a year since she started representing the Philippines. She debuted for the country last year in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, capturing gold medals in vault and team, and bagged a pair of bronze medals in the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Singapore in June.

Finnegan is set to become the first female gymnast from the Philippines to see action in the quadrennial showpiece since Maria-Luisa Floro and Evelyn Magluyan competed in the 1964 edition in Tokyo, Japan. “I’m just so thankful for the Philippines for giving me this opportunity that I would never have been able to take otherwise,” a teary-eyed Finnegan told the Olympic Channel. “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.

Also qualified are Algeria’s Kaylia Neymour, Germany’s Pauline Schafer-Betz, Mexico’s Alexa Moreno, Portugal’s Filipa Martins, Hungary’s Bettina Lili Czifra, Spain’s Alba Petisco, Ukraine’s Anna Lashchevska, Panama’s Hillary Heron, South Africa’s Caitlin Rooskrantz, Czech Republic’s Sona Artamonova, Israel’s Lihie Raz, and Slovenia’s Lucija Hribar. Meanwhile, China, Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Japan, Australia, Romania, and Korea qualified their squads, completing the team list first occupied by the USA, Great Britain, and Canada through the last worlds.

Posting 13 points in vault (18th), 12.433 in uneven bars (73rd), 12.7 in balance beam (38th), and 12.833 in floor exercise (34th), Finnegan is also in line to reach the all-around final as the second reserve. With a limit of two gymnasts per country, the top 24 will advance to the all-around final, while the top 8 will make the apparatus finals. Also donning the national colors for the Philippines, Kylee Kvamme finished 63rd in the all-around qualification with a 49.432 total. Kvamme registered 13.4 points in vault, 12.266 in uneven bars (76th), 12.3 in balance beam (59th), and 11.466 in floor exercise (128th).

In Paris, Finnegan will fly the flag together with fellow gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena



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