These Tokyo Olympic Games, where no fans, local or foreign, will be allowed, are tailor-made for Philippine gymnastics’ pride Carlos Yulo.
Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion revealed this during her Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Tokyo, where she hopes to join Yulo as he embarks on a quest for the country’s first-ever Olympic gold.
“These games are made for Caloy,” said Carrion. “As you very well know, Caloy is a very shy person. He performs better in a calm, silent environment. So with him doing his routines without spectators is very much to his advantage.”
Carrion pointed out the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, where Yulo won two golds in the All-Around and his pet event the men’s floor exercise, to go with his five silver medals in the pommel horse, still rings, vault, and the parallel and horizontal bars.
For a world-class gymnast anticipated to sweep all his seven events in the biennial meet, it was not quite what everyone expected from the reigning world champion, but Carrion had an explanation.
“You know how it is with fans. Everyone was shouting ‘Caloy, Caloy’ during his routines in the SEA Games and he was not built for that. He was not used to that. But through the years, Caloy has learned to filter the noise and learn to focus and concentrate. But in Japan, where there are no fans, that would be better,” Carrion explained.
The gymnastics chief also recalled the 2019 FIG Artistics Gymnastics World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany, where Yulo was the seventh-ranked finalist.
“Nobody knew him, so everyone was quiet. After his performance, everyone was stunned,” said Carrion, who revealed that her ward is now settled at the Tokyo Olympic Village.
“He’s really calm, he’s ready physically, mentally and spiritually when I spoke to him yesterday (Saturday),” said Carrion, who is confident Yulo can win a gold in the floor exercise, and possibly, a silver in the vault or in the parallel bars.
Yulo starts his campaign on July 24 for the qualification of the apparatus. Finals of the individual all-around, if he qualifies, will be on July 28. The floor exercise finals will be on Aug. 1, vault on Aug. 2 and parallel bars on Aug. 3 along with horizontal bar. The pommel horse and rings finals are slated on Aug. 1 and 2.
“I’m the one who’s really nervous. Caloy, he’s just okay,” said Carrion.
Yulo has been training in Japan over the last four years under Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya, developing a bond and influence that go both ways, with the 4’11” Teikyo University student now able to speak Japanese fluently, and his mentor also knowing how to speak in Filipino.
“I asked him (Kugimiya), how’s the weather in Tokyo, he told me, ‘mainit’. He speaks Tagalog (Filipino) better than me now,” said Carrion.
There are also plans to request the IATF for Yulo not to undergo the 7-day hotel quarantine period and just submit a negative RT-PCR test as some sort of an incentive if he wins the gold.
“When he wins the gold, not if,” confidently said Carrion.
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