AS part of his 30th Southeast Asian Games tune-up, world men’s gymnastics floor exercise champion Carlos Edriel Yulo will join Japanese club Asahi Seme (Life) when it competes in the prestigious All-Japan Team Championships next month.
“Caloy has been invited to compete with Asahi Seme for the All-Japan Team Championship,” Japanese mentor Munehiro Kugimiya, the coach of the national men’s gymnastics squad, said yesterday. “This will be a good experience for him since he will be going up against strong Japanese gymnasts.”
Yulo has been training with the Asahi Seme club in Tokyo for more than three years.
Kugimiya added that he and the Japanese club will decide in what apparatuses Yulo will see action.
Kugimiya, who is set to leave with Yulo at 8:35 a.m. today for Tokyo, said among Yulo’s teammates is national team veteran Shoichi Yamamoto. He added that the annual gymnastics team competitions draws top clubs from all over Japan and has been a breeding ground for the country’s national gymnasts.
Among those who have used the event as a springboard to fame and glory is former Rio Olympics men’s all-around champion Kohei Ichimura, one of Yulo’s heroes.
Aside from clinching the world men’s floor exercise crown in the just-concluded 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Yulo also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after placing 18th in the men’s all-around qualifiers. Yulo subsequently finished 10th overall in the all-around finals, a meteoric rise from No. 23 out of 24 finalists in the 2018 edition in Doha, Qatar.
The top 12 finishers in the men’s all-around finals also advanced to the sports showcase that will be held in the Japanese capital next year.
After ruling the men’s floor exercise last Saturday, Yulo, 19, will be the man to watch in Tokyo, a daunting challenge he aims to meet head-on.
“Alam ko po na ako ang paghahandaan ng mga kalaban,” Yulo said, “pero pag-iigihan ko po muli para magtagumpay.”
It has been a whirlwind of activity for the diminutive gymnast since arriving in the country on Tuesday night.
Fetched by Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino at the airport, Yulo was whisked to the Century Park Sheraton Hotel where he was feted in the company of newly-crowned world amateur women’s boxing champ Nesty Petecio and pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, the first Pinoy athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Yulo and Petecio were given a bonus of P1 million each by the Philippine Sports Commission led by chairman Butch Ramirez for their outstanding international achievements. They were also given P1 million each as incentives by the MVP Sports Foundation.
Yesterday, Yulo was also given a P500,000 cash gift by the city of Manila.
Last Wednesday, Obiena, Petecio and Yulo, together with world weightlifting bronze medalist Hidylin Diaz and world boxing silver medalist Eumir Marcial, paid a courtesy call on President Duterte at Malacanang.