By Peter Atencio
After a short holiday break in the Philippines, 18-year-old Carlos Yulo returns next month to Tokyo, Japan to train and join a series of Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya will be by his side again as Yulo seeks to nail needed points and medals in competitions that will be held in Australia, Azerbaijan and Qatar.
“For sure, he can go with very hard training. He has to continue. Kaya natin yan,” said Kugiyama, who returned to Manila with Yulo days after the youngster won two bronze medals in a local tournament in Japan.
The Philippine Sports Commission, through commissioner Celia Kiram, handed Yulo a check of P250,000 for snatching a bronze medal in the men’s floor event of the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships recently at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar.
It was the first time that a gymnast from the Philippines and from the Southeast Asian region won a medal in the world championships.
Yulo is on his final two weeks in Manila and is getting ready to return to Japan on Jan. 5.
“Kahit mag-fifth lang po ako, ang importante makakuha na po ng points para mag-qualify,” said Yulo during a gathering yesterday at the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines training center inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Vito Cruz, Manila.
Kugimiya, who has been handling Yulo for four years, is preparing the kid to see action in the first qualifier in Melbourne, Australia in February.
In March, Yulo will try his luck in Baku, Azerbaijan before he travels to Doha, Qatar in April.
More World Series meets are in store for Yulo, before World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany in October.
“He needs to get good grades, because this will add up to his qualification to the Olympics,” said GAP president Cynthia Carrion.
Yulo, who is supported by his dad Andrew and mom Angelica, comes from a family which enjoys doing gymnastic routines and hanging out at the RMSC gymnastics center.
His eldest sister, Juriel, is a coach, while his younger brother Eldrew is a three-time Palarong Pambansa champion at the elementary boys’ level. His younger sister Isa, 7, is beginning to learn how to do some tumbles.
In the early stages of Yulo’s training, it was the Philippine Good Works Foundation which took care of his expenses.
Then, the PSC came in when the association hired Kugimiya.