By TITO S. TALAO
TOKYO — The Philippines’ Carlos Yulo needs to pull off a degree of difficulty of at least 5.60 each in both vaults during the event’s final on August 2 to contend for a medal in the XXXII Olympiad at the Ariake Gymnastics Center.
And the country’s gymnastics hope has to make sure his landing “sticks” at the end of the postflight, says gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion-Norton.
“The technical people told me that as long as Caloy sticks to the floor and he doesn’t go like this,” says Carrion-Norton, demonstrating a slight wobble of the legs, “and then gets that difficulty score in the two vaults, he has a shot.”
Carrion-Norton says she relayed the information to Yulo’s Japanese coach, Munehiro Kugimiya, telling him, “Coach Mune, try to make both 5.60. After all, you still have a few days left.”
She also reminded Kagiyama with a laugh: “And stick to the floor! I don’t care if you use glue as long as Caloy sticks to the floor.”
Yulo, according to Carrion-Norton, has no problem making 5.60 in his first vault. His second attempt, however, goes down to 5.20.
“He needs to do 5.60 in both vaults,” the gymnastics chief says, like some mantra.
A single hop, or a wobble, on landing could mean a deduction as stated in the New York Times’ guide to gymnastics.
Yulo paid the prize for two crucial mistakes during his favorite floor exercise event in the All-Around event of artistic gymnastics last July 24, and also missed the final of the parallel bars.
“It was too much,” says Carrion-Norton.
But he pulled his act together and made it to the eight-man vault final, clinching sixth place with a 14.712 score, allowing him to vie for a medal.
On why Yulo needs two 5.60 difficulty scores, Carrion-Norton says: “Because the top gymnast from Korea has a difficulty of 6.20.”
By her account, Carrion-Norton says Yulo told her that he’s “OK, he’s prepared, calm, and that he’d do better.’
The sheer pressure of competing in his first Games must have taken its toll on her ward, says Carrion-Norton.
“After all, even Hidilyn (Diaz, the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist), has four Olympics,” she says.
“But in Paris, that’s a guaranteed gold. All the judges say Caloy’s a really good gymnast, a fantastic gymnast.”
Carrion-Norton admits not being able to come up to par to expectations in the floor exercise had been difficult for Yulo.
“Kasi two days before, during the podium training, he was perfect; gold na gold because I monitored everyone and he had the highest score,” she says.
“And so it was very hard for him, Everybody was doing high-fives afterward and he doesn’t even look at anybody.”
In contrast to another Filipino athlete who also failed to land a medal in her pet event.
“Not like Margie (Didal, who finished seventh in the final of the street skateboarding event),” she says, laughing. “Even when she falls, she kept smiling and waving at everybody.”
Yulo’s travel plans after Tokyo remains fluid, says Carrion-Norton.
“He has to go home and see his parents naman although he did talk to them after the qualifying (last July 24),” she says. “But there’s the quarantine kasi and Caloy has a tournament coming up in October here in Japan.
“If he goes home and quarantines there, and then quarantines again on his return here…I don’t know. Every day lost is bad kasi. But I have to talk to him about that.”