STUTTGART. — Carlos Edriel Yulo looks up to multi-awarded Japanese all-around men’s champion Kohei Ichimura, dreaming that he would be performing in the world championships like his idol.
That dream is now a reality as Yulo renews his quest to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, seeing action on Monday in the men’s all-around preliminaries of the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle here.
Arriving here early last week from Tokyo together with Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya to adjust to the cool weather, Yulo, 19, was set to see action at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Manila time), opening his bid in the horizontal bar, one of the six apparatuses in the men’s event.
This will be followed by his forte, the floor exercise, then the pommel horse, rings, vault, respectively, before capping his day with a stint on the parallel bars.
Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion, who arrived here last Saturday, was guardedly optimistic that Yulo, a GAP protégé since he was seven years old, would perform well here and emerge as the country’s second Olympic qualifier after pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena.
“Caloy has undergone extensive training in Japan for over two years now under coach Mune and has had a lot of international exposure,” Carrion noted. “So we are praying very hard that he will do well here and qualify for the Olympics.”
The 4-foot-11 dynamo, whose stint here is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, has already proven that he can shine on the world stage, bagging a gold medal in the floor exercise in the opening leg of the FIG Apparatus World Cup last February in Melbourne, Australia.
Competing against the elite of men’s gymnastics, Yulo copped a bronze medal in the same event in the next stop of the World Cup in Doha, Qatar a month later.
He became the first Filipino gymnast to win a gold medal in the vault event of the prestigious International Junior Gymnastics Championship in Yokohama, Japan in September 2017.
Despite performing with an injury, Yulo displayed a lot of fighting spirit in clinching the gold medal in the parallel bars of the 14th Junior Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand held in May of the same year.
Yulo and Kugimiya declined to be interviewed during their training session last Sunday, preferring to focus on the task at hand, according to Carrion.
“Both of them want to focus first on Caloy’s performance on Monday, but the coach will be available for an interview after our gymnast performs,” she said.
The top 12 finishers in the all-around men’s event will book spots to the Tokyo Games, while the gold, silver and bronze medalists in each of the individual apparatus will also make it to the quadrennial sports showcase.