Pinoy gymnastics prospect Karl Eldrew Yulo finds own Japanese coach

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Oct 01 2022 09:51 AM | Updated as of Oct 03 2022 04:41 AM

No less than Japanese national men's artistic gymnastics coach Hiroaki Sato was willing to take Karl Eldrew under his wing. Handout
No less than Japanese national men's artistic gymnastics coach Hiroaki Sato was willing to take Karl Eldrew under his wing. Handout

While Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya is the Pygmalion to Carlo Edriel Yulo's Galatea, younger sibling Karl Eldrew may have found his own mentor from the Land of the Rising Sun in grooming him to shine on the world stage. 

Gymnastics Association of Philippines president Cynthia Carrrion revealed Wednesday that no less than Japanese national men's artistic gymnastics coach Hiroaki Sato was apparently interested to take Karl Eldrew under his wings.

Sato is not only the head coach of the Japanese squad but, take note, is also the personal mentor of former world and Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura, whom the older Yulo idolizes. 

She added that Sato had struck a relationship with the two-time world champion's livewire kid brother as one of the instructors of the FIG Academy Artistics Gymnastics-Level 2 course held at the MVP Sports Foundation Training Center in Intramuros, Manila last month. 

Carrion said that the younger Yulo, 14, was thrilled no end every time Sato would ask him to demonstrate a skill or routine during the course. 

"'Ma'am Cynthia, look, coach Sato is clapping at me!'" she recalled the gymnast saying while grinning from ear-to-ear after performing a stunt that met the Japanese mentor's approval. 

"Kinilig po ako (I was really thrilled)," Karl Eldrew said of the possibile opportunity handled by the celebrated Japanese coach, who saw his older brother blossom into a world-class athlete while training in Tokyo under Kugimiya's tutelage.

"Hindi ko po sasayangin yung opportunity na yon (I won't pass up this opportunity,)" he said. 

The younger Yulo recounted how he expressed his desire to be trained by Sato during the weeklong intensive worskshop. 

"I told coach Hiro during one of our breaks that I wanted him to train, and he (Sato) simply replied: 'Me, too,'" he remembered of their chat. "During our last day, he repeated what he told about wanting to coach me."

While acknowledging Yulo’s interest that he be coached by him, Sato wrote this writer in an email Sunday night that nothing was set in his stone yet, especially after the 2024 Paris Summer Games. 

”Needless to say, I had a great time coaching Eldrew during the Academy. However, it doesn't mean that I promised to coach him after the Paris 2024 Games,” he clarified. “Of course I wish him every success.” 

“I would like to emphasize that there is nothing is confirmed and I am still considering a lot of options,” Sato stressed about his future after the 2024 Olympics.

The gymnast said what endeared him to the Japanese was that he spoke in fluent American English and pronounced his complete name right. 

"Other Japanese coaches would mispronounce my name as 'Erudrew Yuro;' but coach Hiro can pronounce the 'L' just right," he said, smiling. 

With this development, Carrion said that plans to have Yulo's younger sibling to join him in Tokyo to train was no longer on the drawing board.

"And Caloy (Yulo's) nickname seems lukewarm to have his younger brother join in the Japanese capital," she said.

A Grade 9 high school student at Adamson University, the younger Yulo he looked forward to having Sato as his coach should the Japanese give him a call. 

Whether Karl Eldrew will be as successful as his illustrious sibling under Sato remains to be seen.

But given the likely willingness of both talented athlete and accomplished coach to give it a try, the immense potential is there of another winning Filipino-Japanese gymnastics collaboration should it ever occur.