Philippines National Women’s Gymnastics Team Wins Gold at the SEA Games!
The Philippine women’s artistic gymnastics squad competed in the 31st Southeast Asian Games on Saturday, May 14th at the Quan Ngua Sports Palace, in Vietnam.
The six-woman Philippine gymnastics team worked together to achieve a team score of 184.50 points, clinching Gold.The athletes representing their country were Chiara Andrews, Ancilla Lucia Manzano, Lucia Gutierrez, Kursten Lopez, Ma.Cristina Loberanes, and Aleah Finnegan.
Individual highlights included Aleah Finnegan earning a silver medal in the all-around competition. Finnegan scored 49.25 points, closely behind gold medalist Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia who earned 49.65 points.
Quatro had an exclusive opportunity to sit down and interview Coach Cliff Parks and several of the girls after the competition and we’d like to share a few of the highlights.
Coach Cliff is one of the National Team Coaches for the Philippines and his daughter is a member of the Philippines National Team. Cliff’s role is to prepare the girls for international competitions and he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to continue promoting and building the National gymnastics program in the Philippines. In Cliff’s opinion, what was especially impressive about this competition was not just the fact that the girls won gold, but the fact that they did so in the face of adversity. In recent months, Covid has been on the rise in Southeast Asia and several of the girls on the team could not train due to mandatory quarantines. When they were finally able to train again, the girls had very little time to prepare for the competition. To make matters even worse, due to travel restrictions Cliff could not attend the competition and had to coach from the virtual sidelines. What could have been a disaster was in fact a recipe for success. The girls pulled together, worked collectively as a whole, and trusted their preparation which in turn catapulted their team to success.
One of the leaders on the team was veteran competitor Ma.Cristina (Tina) Loberanes, who at twenty six years of age is not only a phenomenal competitor at the top of her game, but she is also the mother of a one and a half year old baby boy who was born via cesarean section. The fact that Tina has been able to return to elite gymnastics such a short time after giving birth and having major abdominal surgery is nothing short of amazing. Tina’s years of experience and calm demeanor made her the perfect role model for this young team. She did an outstanding job leading by example, keeping everyone laser focused so they could perform their best. In addition to Tina, another standout performer who helped set the tone for the team was Aleah Finnegan who brought home a silver all around medal. Consistency is key, and having consistent leaders proved to be a huge asset in helping this team win gold.
When asked about who most inspired them, each member of the team expressed similar sentiments, stating that their families inspired them the most. Tina shared that she was grateful for all that her family has done to support her dreams and her success in gymnastics is her way of repaying them. Similarly Kirsten and Lucia stated that they appreciated the sacrifices their parents have made for them and they want to make their families proud. Charlie, the youngest competitor on the team, told us that she has been training at the same gym as the Philippines National Team since she was four or five years old, and seeing their level of success inspired her to train harder.
The future is looking bright for Philippines gymnastics, and Quatro is proud to be a part of their journey. It was a privilege to outfit the team for this event, and we are excited to watch this incredible group of athletes pave the way for future generations of gymnasts to come in the Phillipines. and when asked what advice they would offer to gymnasts who aspire to compete at the highest level, each of the girls offered valuable input. Kursten Lopez, whose future plans include competing in college, encourages gymnasts not to take a coach’s criticism personally. She thinks it’s important for gymnasts to understand that coaches want their athletes to be the best versions of themselves they can be and therefore it is the coach’s responsibility to help instill attributes and traits necessary to become a successful gymnast. Tina and Lucia’s advice to young gymnasts is to work hard and not give up, and Charlie wants gymnasts to understand the importance of keeping the joy in the sport.