MANILA, Philippines – Shortly after qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Carlos Yulo admitted that he felt pressured in the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.
“I got quite nervous and my legs were shaking,” bared Yulo, the youngest entry in the men’s all-around event at 19 years old.
The Filipino gymnast began his campaign with a score of 13.033 points on the high bar, but bounced back in style by incorporating new and more difficult elements in his floor exercise routine, which wowed the crowd of 6,000 inside the arena and tally 14.666, his best score among all the 6 apparatuses.
But he dipped in form in his next two events – the pommel horse and rings – with tallies of 12.466 and 13.553, respectively, and looked like he would miss the boat to the all-around finals at that point.
Sensing that he was in a jam, Yulo rose to the occasion and regained his bearings to turn in high scores on the vault and parallel bars – an event where he won a gold medal in the 2017 Asian junior championships in Bangkok, Thailand – sealing his entry to the finals as well as trip to the Tokyo Olympics.
Yulo’s qualification to the quadrennial multisport event was confirmed in an official press notice issued by the International Gymnastics Federation, which was received by Gymnastics Association of the Philippines secretary general Bettina Pou back in Manila.
“Yes, Caloy (Yulo’s nickname) has already qualified in the all-around because he has moved up as No. 1 in the individual rankings since China, Russia, and Japan have already qualified their athletes after their 1-2-3 finish, respectively, at last year’s worlds held in Doha, Qatar,” noted Pou.
“This is wonderful for Philippine gymnastics and for Caloy. It is an honor for GAP to have the second qualifier to the Olympics,” said GAP president Cynthia Carrion, who took in the athlete way back in 2009 as a GAP protégé.
“Hopefully, he will continue to do well and win a medal in both the all-around and floor exercise. And we urge our countrymen back home to pray for his success here,” she added.
Yulo finished 18th overall out of 160 entries to make the cut of 24 gymnasts in the all-around finals on Friday, October 11.
In a historic first for Philippine gymnastics, the diminutive 4-foot-11 dynamo emerged as the country’s second Olympic qualifier after pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who sealed his own ticket to Tokyo last September in ruling a meet in Italy.
“[I’m] satisfied with Caloy’s performance, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” stressed Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya, who has mentored the gymnast for over 6 years and has seen him blossom into a world-class athlete, and now, an Olympic-bound athlete. – Rappler.com