The Philippines will end its Olympic gold drought in Tokyo, where gymnast Carlos Yulo will take on the role of historical hero.
That is, if you ask Cynthia Carrion, the head of gymnastics who makes sure her neighborhood performs at the Summer Games that she has built fences around Yulo, including declining an invitation from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to have the world reigning. champion do the honors of carrying the flag during opening ceremonies.
“You know how heavy the flags are,” Carrion, president of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP), told the Philippine Sports Writers Association forum. “They asked him and I said no. He has competition the next day and he needs to rest.”
Carrion wants Yulo to fully focus on the job at hand, as he has limited interactions with the Southeast Asian champion.
“I know it will come back [here in the Philippines] with a gold medal, ” Carrión said. “In all the videos of him that I have seen, his training is perfect. If he does it perfectly in competition like he does in training and without deductions, I know he can do it. “
Carrión hopes that Yulo will take home the gold in the floor exercise and at least one silver in the vault. You also see a podium on the uneven bars.
There are reasons for their optimism, at least in part in their predictions. Yulo is the reigning world champion in floor exercise, having ruled the event in 2019 in Germany, where he beat Ukrainian-born Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat for the title. Yulo, the youngest gymnast on the field during that competition, scored 15,300 against Dolgopyat’s 15,200. China’s Xiao Ruoteng finished third with 14,933.
But meeting Carrión’s predictions on the vault and parallel bars will be a challenge. Yulo faces players like reigning world champion Nikita Nagornyy of Russia and his compatriot Artur Dalaloyan, who finished second. Joe Fraser from the UK, meanwhile, is the parallel bars world champion and he and runner-up Ahmet Önder from Turkey will give Yulo a shot for his money.
Yulo, who has also been studying in Japan for the past four years, recently won a bronze medal in the parallel bars event at the 2021 Japan Apparatus Championship.
“It looks perfect,” Carrión said. “I just hope and pray that he doesn’t get injured. Caloy’s mind, emotions, and abilities have been strengthened. He’s so calm when you talk to him. It’s me who gets really nervous with the Olympics fast approaching. ”
Yulo will go through the qualifying and qualifying rounds for the first time on July 24, one day after the Games open, and expects to see action in the general final on July 28 and the individual apparatus finals 1-3. August at the Olympic Gymnastics Center in Tokyo.
After receiving the first dose of his Pfizer vaccine last month, Yulo will be fully inoculated next week against the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
“To tell the truth, I don’t want to be vaccinated [with just a few weeks left before the Olympics]. But [International Gymnastics Federation president Morinari] Watanabe told me that if Caloy is positive, he will no longer be allowed to compete. That’s why I accepted, ” Carrión said.
Yulo, 21, discovered by the GAP at age seven in a playground near the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex where the gymnastics offices are located, has been training in Japan for the past four years under the tutelage of coach Munehiro Kugimiya.
In addition to Yulo, there are also golfers Yuka Saso, the national boxing team, and weightlifter Hidilyn Díaz, to end the centuries-old search for an Olympic champion.
A total of 19 Filipinos will see action at the Olympics, which moved into this year after a pandemic wiped out their stage last year. INQ
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