STUTTGART. — What should Olympic-bound and newly-minted world men’s floor exercise champion Carlos Edriel Yulo do for an encore?
After his historic and highly successful stint in the 41st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships here, Yulo can now set his sights at stamping his class in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.
Over dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant last Saturday night hosted by Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion to celebrate Yulo’s win, Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya was coy about his prized ward’s SEA Games prospects.
On top the floor exercise gold, Yulo, 19, also booked a ticket in the all-around event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after placing 18th overall exactly a week ago in the event’s qualifiers.
He eventually finished 10th overall in the finals last Friday.
Reserving his best for last, Yulo came up with an awe-inspiring display of grace, artistry and athleticism to secure the floor exercise gold with an eye-popping score of 15.300 points as he became the first Filipino to win a world gymnastics title.
For the first time in the 41 editions of the global gymnastics showcase, the Philippine national anthem was played in the event that drew the best gymnasts from 92 countries to this picturesque German city.
Yulo shared the podium with Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat, who finished a close second with 15.200 points, and China’s Xiao Ruoteng who settled for the bronze with 14.933 points.
Yulo will see action in two events in the quadrennial meet to be held in the Japanese capital, where he has been training for over three years under the supervision of Kugimiya.
“We will see, we will see,” Kugimiya said while having wine and a plateful of seafood pasta, the restaurant’s house specialty.
Upon the request of Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, Yulo and Kugimiya were scheduled to leave on Monday with Carrion back to Manila. Immediately after they arrive early Tuesday night, the three will join Ramirez to pay a courtesy call on President Duterte at Malacanang.
Yulo is expected to receive a P1 million bonus from the President for his outstanding accomplishments here, Carrion said.
Seven gold medals will be up for grabs in the men’s artistic gymnastics in the SEA Games – the floor exercise, vault, parallel bars, rings, horizontal high bar, parallel bars, and the men’s all-around.
Yulo is the top favorite in the floor exercise as well as the vault and parallel bars, based on the high scores he garnered in both events here.
The floor exercise promises to be an intriguing hometown clash between Yulo and reigning two-time SEA Games champion Reyland Capellan, who has been training hard back at home and won’t be expected to yield his throne easily.
“Reyland has been training hard back in Manila so this event promises to be an exciting one against Yulo,” Carrion noted. “In front of a hometown crowd, it could be anybody’s game.”
Capellan, who also won a vault bronze medal in the 2015 Singapore and 2017 Singapore games, might just give Yulo a run for his money.
Yulo admitted that the horizontal or high bar, pommel horse and rings are not his strong suits but given the regional opposition is given a 50-50 chance to rule them as well.
“Ang alam ko lang ay higit kong pagbubutihan kasi first SEA Games ko po ito,” said the country’s latest sports sensation, who is set to make his debut in the regional meet on home turf.
Carrion expressed optimism that given the huge morale boost – and intimidation factor – that Yulo got during his stint here, “Caloy might just win them all.”