With the Tokyo Olympic Games closely approaching, athletes across the globe are rigorously training in sight of the gold for their respective country. For the Philippines, star gymnast Carlos “Caloy” Yulo is doing just that. 

Yulo secured a trip to the Olympics in the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany after placing 16th overall in the individual all-around qualification. In the same event, he became the first Southeast Asian to nab a gold medal in the men’s floor exercise. 

Currently based in Tokyo, Yulo has been preparing for the Games with the help of his longtime coach, Munehiro Kugimiya. When pandemic restrictions were initially placed early last year, Yulo and fellow gymnasts were unable to use their training venue for around a month and were subsequently forced to train inside of their own abodes. The rising cases in many countries eventually led to the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games to safeguard the health of athletes and other participants. Despite these changes, Yulo still remained optimistic. “Even though the Olympic Games got cancelled, I didn’t see this as a problem. In my perspective, I see this as a chance to improve my skills and maybe add some skills on my routines,” the gymnast proclaimed. 

Indeed, his determined mindset and athleticism gave him a bronze medal in vault during the All-Japan Senior Gymnastics Championships held in September 2020. A few months later Yulo gained two bronze medals in the vault and floor exercises in the 2020 All-Japan Gymnastics Championships last December, while placing eighth overall with a score of 170.032. 

With no more competitions left before the most awaited quadrennial sports event, the 21-year-old is focused on conditioning and polishing his routines and skills. Usually, his typical training day consists of one-hour warm-ups, one-hour conditioning exercises, and two-hour apparatus training. While Yulo will be participating in all six men’s gymnastics events, he is most excited for the parallel bar, vault, and floor exercises. Currently, he is working on mastering the triple backflip in his floor routine, a skill that requires an immense amount of power, strength, and accuracy. 

Carlos Yulo with Coach Munehiro Kugimiya at the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Beyond physical training, he is looking forward to seeing how Japan will host the event in light of the still unprecedented conditions brought by the pandemic. Unlike before, the Olympic Games, which will take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, is most likely expected to be without overseas spectators to reduce the possible spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nonetheless, the young gymnast is overall excited to perform and represent the Philippines in hopes of winning the country’s first Olympic gold. 

“The Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) is very proud of Caloy and applauds his efforts to continue his preparations for the Olympics even with all the challenges he and the rest of us are facing,” GAP Secretary-General Sandhya Castro-Tayag declared.  ‘’His GAP family is here to support him and coach Mune, and we will be here to cheer for him and support him on every step of the way on his historic journey to the Olympics.

“Caloy is a role model for all our athletes who are training under very trying circumstances and his hard work and perseverance, sacrifice and dedication makes him a true champion in our eyes,” Castro-Tayag emphasized. 

Yulo reminds aspiring athletes on a similar journey to stay diligent, grounded, and passionate in the sport they love. “Just do your thing,” he advises. “Train harder and smarter. Don’t forget to thank God and the people who are supporting you. Be thankful for what you have. It’s not always about winning. It’s about how you will rise up when you fall down.”

Heeding his own advice, Yulo is clearly bound to rise up amidst all challenges and soar in this summer’s Olympic Games.

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