Gymnast Aleah Finnegan prepares for Paris 2024 Olympic Games

The gymnast qualified for the 2024 Olympics representing the Philippines
Ohio St LSU Gymnastics
Posted at 1:08 PM, Jun 06, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gymnast Aleah Finnegan spent years training in the Kansas City area with Olympic dreams. At one point she thought those dreams may have been over, but now she has qualified to represent the Philippines at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

In April, Finnegan helped LSU clinch the NCAA women’s gymnastics national title. Weeks later, she was back in the Kansas City area keeping up her training and preparing for Paris.

She shares that passion for gymnastics with her sisters. Her sister Sarah Finnegan was even named an alternate for Team USA for the 2012 Olympics.

“I think as soon as I knew what the Olympics was, I was like, ‘OK, well how old do I have to be?’ kind of doing the math behind it,” Aleah said. “And then I was like ‘I’m gonna be 17 in 2020, this is it.”

Those Olympic dreams were dashed when she didn’t make the Olympic Trials in 2021.

“Just really heartbroken, just the fact that I didn’t even make the Olympic trials,” she said.

Prepared to move on, she went to LSU to begin college gymnastics and leave elite gymnastics behind.

“It was very, very hard,” her mother, Linabelle Finnegan said. “But I was so thankful how God ... when he closes one door, he opens another and most of the time it’s always a better door.”

Linabelle said she got a call asking if Aleah would represent the Philippines (where Linabelle grew up) in international competition, and she agreed.

“I’m sitting there and I’m watching the flag go up as the national anthem is playing and I look at my mom and like she’s crying. I’m crying, everyone is getting so emotional and so I’m really thankful to be able to represent the Philippines,” Aleah said.

“It’s just amazing,” Linabelle said. “It’s your roots, so it never leaves me.”

In the fall of 2023, Aleah represented the Philippines at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Belgium where she qualified for the 2024 Olympics. She said she had to wait a while after her performance for the results.

“All of a sudden, our assistant coach at LSU who I had brought with me, he just sends me texts and he’s like ‘you did it!’” she said. “It was just such a special moment just because I have experienced ‘no.’ I have experienced injury and heartbreak and all of those things that make a moment like this just that much more special.”