By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
If stars align late this month, gymnast Carlos Yulo will be giving the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal.
Not only that, the Filipino athlete who has been training in Japan is also capable of winning a silver medal.
That’s the assessment of Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) President Cynthia Carrion with less than three weeks left before the Tokyo Olympics – the biggest sporting spectacle – start to dazzle its global audience.
Carrion said Yulo can rule his pet event, the floor exercise, and maybe win a silver in the vault following videos and updates that she receives from his Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya.
“If he performs the way he’s training right now, he can win that gold (in floor exercise),” said Carrion during Tuesday’s guesting at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum.
She also added that Yulo, 21, has a fighting chance to win the silver in the vault and probably make it to the finals of the parallel bars.
“If everything is done properly and he doesn’t have a deduction like in all the videos that I’ve seen, then he can win more,” Carrion said.
Yulo has been training extensively in Japan over the last four years while studying at Teikyo University. He rose to prominence in 2019 when he became the first Filipino and male Southeast Asian gymnast to become a world champion after winning the floor exercise gold in the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
That victory earned him a berth to the Tokyo Olympics, where all eyes will be on the diminutive gymnast from Manila.
Yulo is expected to start his campaign on July 24 for the qualification of the apparatus. Finals of the individual all-around, if ever he qualifies, will be on July 28. The floor exercise finals will be on Aug. 1, vault on Aug. 2 and parallel bars on Aug. 3 along with horizontal bar.
Pommel horse and rings finals will be on Aug. 1 and 2.
Carrion also disclosed that Yulo has received his first dose of anti-COVID-19 vaccine three weeks ago at his university and is scheduled for his second shot next week.
Carrion admitted she was hesitant at first to have Yulo inoculated because it might interfere with his physical conditioning, but international gymnastics federation (FIG) president Morinari Watanabe advised her that if the young gymnast tested positive of the virus, he wouldn’t be able to compete.
“We don’t want to risk that,” said Carrion, adding that Yulo only felt swelling on his arm for one day.
Carrion urges fans and supporters to pray for Yulo, as well as the rest of the PH team’s campaign to the Olympics, to finally end that Olympic gold medal drought.
“I’m praying that he doesn’t get injured in the next 19 days. I advise him to strengthen his mind and emotions because skill-wise, he’s already gotten it. If he does that, and of course, God willing, we can win the gold in floor, maybe a silver in vault and a finals spot in parallel bars,” Carrion said.