The women in the life of Filipino gymnastics’ phenom Carlos Yulo have been pushing him to seek greater heights for many years.
With two weeks left before the Tokyo Olympics, Yulo, with his mom Anjelica and Gymnastics Association of the Philippines’ president Cynthia Carrion behind him all the way, is expected to emerge from their influence with the best version of himself.
Yulo will bring with him a mean triple back flip, and lots of focus, when he sets foot at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
That’s because Carrion had been asking his coach Munehiro Kugimiya to help Yulo improve on his skills, making him learn new tricks from what he already knows.
“This (triple flip) is the top skill he’s got against his opponent from Russia. The Russian tries it. But, he goes out of bounds,” said Carrion referring to Kirill Propokev, one of Yulo’s main opponents to watch out for.
And this is what Yulo has been doing in the last three years training and preparing for the quadrennial meet while staying in Japan.
“If he does everything correct, and with the triple flip, when he turns backward thrice, and then forward, and then he lands well, then he will get the gold,” said Carrion on Yulo’s quest to claim the first-ever gold for the country.
Known to be shy and hardly speaks to anyone who wishes to discuss with him his abilities, Yulo is expected to go into action with incredible focus, a mindset which his mom, Angelica, has instilled in him since he started at the age of 7.
“There’s nothing special with Caloy in the beginning. Nu’ng nag-start siya, he was just focused sa goals niya. Iyun lang ang iba sa mga nakasama niyang mga bata,” said Angelica of Yulo’s main trait that grew into a passion.
“Talagang focused siya sa mga ginagawa niya. At iyung pagpu-push naman, especially ako, sa training niya, iyun lang ang ginagawa namin,” said Angelica of her son’s ability of showing full concentration since he was young, while learning and doing his routines.
This allowed him to embrace and love the all the gigs there was in the sport after his grandfather, Rodrigo Frisco, introduced it to him back in 2008 when they first went to a public park in Manila to watch and do some flips.
Caloy was able to copy with ease the movements of a young gymnast that he watched while in the park. Frisco then decided to take his grandson to a gymnastics class which coach Rodrigo Ortero was holding at the Rizal Memorial Complex at the time.
A year later, Yulo was competing in the 1st Milo National Little Olympics in 2009, hosted by Cebu City.
Ten years later, Yulo emerged from all of his experiences by securing a 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ berth and a historic World Championship gold.
Yulo made it to Tokyo after he did well in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships as he reached the top 10 of the men’s individuall all-around final, becoming the first Filipino world champion when he ruled the men’s floor exercise. His historic run took place in Stuttgart, Germany, where he topped the men’s floor exercise final with a score of 15.300.
It has been five years since Yulo accepted an offer by the Japan Olympic Association to train in Japan under a scholarship program.
And Yulo, now 21, has not wavered in his Olympic dreams.
Yulo, who idolizes Japan’s three-time Olympic gold medalist and 21-time world champion Kohei Uchimura, could pull off a couple of surprises in Tokyo.
And he could do this now that he is showing more proficiency in three of six events in men’s artistic gymnastics, giving Yulo a chance to win more medals.
In the past months, Kugimiya has managed to help Yulo improve his routines out of the floor exercise, which is his main forte. He has since become more skilled in executing routines in the vault and the parallel bars.
Last month, Yulo showed how well he was doing when he bagged a bronze medal in the 2021 All Japan Apparatus Championships.
Yulo tallied 14.966 points to land a third-place finish in the men’s parallel bars event.
Rio Olympics’ gold medalist Yusuke Tanaka and Kaito Sugimoto tied for the gold medal after they both received 15.400 points.
Yulo intentionally did not join the floor exercises during the competition for fear of being scouted, but he still came over and watched.
After the competition, Yulo informed Carrion that he will be able to win a medal over other Japanese competitors.
“If he performs the way he’s training right now, he can win that gold (in the floor exercise),” said Carrion, adding that Yulo has a fighting chance to win the silver in the vault and probably make it to the finals of the parallel bars.
“If everything is done properly and he doesn’t have a deduction like in all the videos that I’ve seen, then he can win more,” Carrion said.
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