Jakarta—In the Doha World Cup early this year, up-and-coming Filipino gymnast Carlos Yulo stunned Ryohei Kato, the gold medalist from Japan in the team all-around gymnastics’ event of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Yulo finished behind a Russian champ in Qatar and took the silver, while Kato settled for the bronze.
Let that, for a moment, sink in—a young Filipino gymnast beating a certified Olympic champion.
Kato is some sort of a hometown hero back in Japan. He was even part of an elaborate celebration lighting up the night sky at the Japanese capital in the colors of the Olympic rings in July to mark the two-year countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Today, Yulo, armed with a strict three-year training regimen in Japan, shoots for history as he aims to win the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in Artistic Gymnastics in the 18th Asian Games at the Jakarta International Expo Hall here.
It has been ages since the Philippines has had a gymnastics’ star to embrace. The last gymnast to have mesmerized our country was Bea Lucero, who mixed her good looks with her amazing grace and fluidity on the floor.
Yulo could be that star gymnast we have been yearning for.
On Monday in the Asian Games, Yulo finished on top of an 8-man field that made it to the medal round of the floor exercises on Thursday, starting at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in Manila).
Standing just 4’11” but is a bundle of energy on the floor, Yulo led the field as he submitted a score of 14.500, followed by Taipei’s Chia-Hong Tang with 14.450, while Japan’s Kakeru Tanigawa had the third-best score of 14.400.
He is the odds-on pick for the floor gold, his favorite among the 5 apparatus in the Artistics Gymnastics finals.
“I’m ready na po,” said Caloy, Yulo’s nickname. “I’m focused and concentrated. Hindi po ako nangangako pero ipapakita ko po ang lahat ng aking makakaya sa laban.”