No one perhaps felt more frustrated outside of gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo himself about the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics than Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion.
After all, Carrion was confident that Yulo was ripe for Olympic glory, a fitting follow-up to the athlete’s historic conquest at the 40th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships held in Stuttgart, Germany last October.
In front of an appreciative sell-out crowd at the impressive 15,000-seat Hanns Martin Meyer Schleyer Halle, the diminutive Filipino dynamo took the event by storm, putting on a dazzling show to bag the men’s floor exercise gold with a top score of 15.300 points. He is the first Filipino and Southeast Asian gymnast to win a gold in the competition.
Up in the VIP lounge witnessing her countryman’s magnificent outing was Carrion, who recalled being teary-eyed over the gymnast’s feat that made him an overnight sports sensation.
“I believe that after the stint of Caloy (Yulo’s nickname) in the Southeast Asian Games, he was already peaking and win the gold (in the floor exercise) in Tokyo. Nobody could reach his level,” she said of the young athlete, who has been a GAP protégé since he was 7 years old.
So it was a huge letdown for the GAP chief -- and certainly for the gymnast himself -- when the International Olympic Committee decided to reschedule the global sports showcase to next year in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
However, Carrion was banking on Yulo’s resilience, boldly predicting that the athlete might even meet expectations of ending the Philippines’ 97-year-old gold-medal drought next year.
“I’m aiming for Caloy winning the gold in the floor exercise, silver in the vault, and him reaching the finals in the parallel bars,” said the gymnastics boss of the ambitious aspirations for her prized ward in Tokyo next year.
Given that Yulo still has more than a year to train for the Olympics, Carrion believes that meeting these goals were doable, and the athlete’s results at the 30th SEA Games seem to back her up.
Yulo scored 14.900 and 14.400 points in the vault and parallel bars, respectively, in his SEA Games debut in front of a sell-out crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
These runner-up finishes were among the five silvers he won aside from mints in the men’s floor exercise and all-around, emerging as the most outstanding Filipino athlete at the SEA Games.
His vault score is just slightly off the 14.933 silver-medal tally of Russian Artur Dalaloyan at the worlds, while his output in the parallel bars is better than 14.200 of Ukrainian seventh-place finisher Petro Pahniuk in the same meet.
Yulo had identical high marks of 14.333 points each in the vault and parallel bars, respectively, at the men’s artistic gymnastics all-around qualifiers in Germany. He finished 18th overall with a total output of 82.164 points that got him a slot for the Tokyo Games.
Carrion said that Yulo, who has been based in Tokyo for more than four years, continues to train under the watchful eye of Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya, the national men’s squad mentor since 2015.
Yulo’s drive for Olympic honors may have been stalled for a now, but Carrion is confident the gymnastics phenom will stand out and deliver in Tokyo a year from now.
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Carlos Yulo, new normal, sports new normal, Gymnastics Association of the Philippines, Cynthia Carrion, coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, lockdown, quarantine