MANILA, Philippines — No matter what happens in the coming Tokyo Olympics, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo is set on competing in the 33rd Summer Games in Paris in 2024. By then, he’ll be 24 and still in his prime. Three-event world titlist Nikita Nagornyy of Russia looms as Yulo’s main competitor in Tokyo and he’s now 24. Yulo and Nagornyy performed at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, in October 2019 with the Filipino claiming the gold medal in the floor exercise despite being the youngest competitor at 19 years, seven months, 26 days.
Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion said the other day Yulo is determined to do the triple backflip for the first time in Tokyo. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble but he’s got his eyes on the prize. “Caloy’s doing fine, working hard but of course, he needs refining in sticking to the floor, no skipping,” said Carrion. “If he does the triple backflip well, it’s a sure gold. We’ll know by June if he’ll do it or not. Nikita faltered (in Stuttgart) and that opened the door for Caloy to win the gold.
Yulo was geared to participate in three world-class competitions this year but because of the pandemic, the events were cancelled. “Not enough preparation through competitions but his training in Japan is doing well,” noted Carrion. “He’s dedicating Tokyo to our country. After Tokyo, Caloy will go back home and train with his colleagues for the SEA Games in Vietnam.”
Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya said Yulo’s on track to earn an associate degree in literature at Teikyo University in September. Yulo has the option of continuing to study at Teikyo where he could graduate with a bachelor’s degree in two more years. Kugimiya said if Manila isn’t able to put up a world-standard gymnastics facility, Yulo is better off staying in Tokyo where he has trained the last four years.
Yulo was recently given the Jorge B. Vargas Most Outstanding Athlete Award by the Rotary Club of Manila, the biggest and first Rotary Club in Asia with 223 members. He garnered 41 votes to win the award over five other outstanding athletes. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz took second place and golfer Yuka Saso, third. The annual award is a project initiated by Rotary Club of Manila immediate past president Jackie Rodriguez, formerly Toyota team manager in the PBA. There are 1,016 Rotary Clubs in the country with 25,000 members in 10 districts. The Rotary Club of Manila is one of 117 clubs in District 3810 where Liza Elorde is the immediate past governor. Sportsman Hermie Esguerra is the Rotary Club of Manila programs committee chairman and immediate past vice president.