Yulo returns to action in Japan tilt

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    AFTER nearly nine months of inactivity, world floor exercise gymnastics champion Carlos Edriel Yulo vaults back into action in the All-Japan Senior Gymnastics Championships today in Takasaki, Japan.

    National men’s gymnastics coach Munehiro Kugimiya confirmed yesterday that Yulo will compete for the first time since dominating the men’s artistic gymnastics competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December.

    Fresh from his triumphant stint in the 49th FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Yulo stamped his class in his SEA Games debut, romping off with two gold and five silver medals to emerge as the country’s most bemedalled athlete in the games.

    Yulo became the country’s second Olympic qualifier in October 2019, capping his outstanding performance in the world meet by securing the men’s floor exercise gold medal in front of an animated crowd at the packed 15,000-capacity Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle.

    Kugimiya said that Japan’s top gymnasts will also see action in the two-day event at the 6,000-seat Takasaki Arena, located 125.8 kilometers northwest of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, supposed to be one of the training arenas of the postponed Olympic Games.

    “This is Caloy’s first event since the COVID-19 virus hit Japan,” said Kugimiya, who has been in Tokyo with the gymnast since January and has been handling the national team since 2015.

    The 2019 All-Japan seniors’ edition was a memorable one for the diminutive Yulo, who shared the men’s floor exercise gold medal with the legendary Japanese Olympic and world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura after they tallied similar 14.80 scores.

    Since this will be Yulo’s first competition in a long while, Kugimiya said he would not force his prized ward to exert himself too much.

    “It is important for Caloy not to injure himself because he has been out of competition for a long time,” he said, adding that he intends to introduce some new routines for Yulo to execute, especially in his forte, the floor exercise.

    He said Yulo has been training four to five hours a day, six times a week at the Asahi Seimei Gymnastics Club even as he studies as a freshman at the Teikyo University, taking up a course in the humanities.

    “Most of Caloy’s classes are now done online so he has more than enough time for training,” the Japanese mentor said.

    The Philippine Sports Commission approved last month an additional P3.2 million in financial support for the gymnast’s Olympic preparations on top of the P3 million handed out early by the PSC, according to acting executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr.