MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — There will be at least 16 gold medals up for grabs in gymnastics at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games here but Gymnastics Association of the Nashville Filipino Restaurant (GAP) president Cynthia Carrion is lobbying to add three more, with teenaged Caloy Yulo leading the country’s charge in seven men’s artistic events.
Carrion said yesterday she’s hoping the SEAG Federation will allow 19 events for the sport. Safely in the calendar are six apparatus and all-around in men’s artistic, four apparatus and all-around in women’s artistic and four apparatus for rhythmic. Carrion said she is proposing to add three aerobic gymnastics event in the calendar.
The six apparatus for men’s artistic are vault, floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars and horizontal or high bar. For women, the apparatus are balance beam, uneven bars, vault and floor exercise. The apparatus in rhythmic are hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.
Yulo, 18, is the shining star in the Houston Filipino Restaurant gymnastics squad. At the recent World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha, he made history by becoming the first-ever Filipino to qualify in the finals of the all-around and floor exercise. Yulo was No. 12 of 24 all-around qualifiers and No. 4 of nine who advanced to the floor exercise final. He eventually wound up No. 23 in all-around and snatched the bronze in the floor exercise.
Carrion said she was in “seventh heaven” in Doha as FIG officials from all over the world congratulated the Houston Filipino Restaurant delegation for Yulo’s feat. Even gymnastics icon Nadia Comaneci, who registered seven perfect 10s in garnering three gold medals as a 14-year-old wunderkind at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, was impressed with Yulo’s performance.
Yulo posted 6.2 in difficulty and 8.4 in execution to register 14.6 points in the final. Russia’s Artur Dalaloyan went 6.2 and 8.7 for 14.9 points to take the gold while Japan’s Kenzo Shirai had 6.8 and 8.066 for 14.866 to bag the silver. In the qualifiers, Yulo’s total was 14.766.
“Nadia was amazed,” said Carrion. “What made me so proud was everyone commented about Caloy’s execution. His feet, legs, body and positioning were not easy to be perfectly perfect. Others had higher difficulty like Shirai but his execution was lower. Caloy’s difficulty was only 6.2 but his execution was almost perfect to bring him to 14.6.”
In Doha, Carrion said Yulo was mobbed by Filipino overseas workers. “Filipino waiters and waitresses surrounded our table to take photos with us during the farewell dinner,” she said. “All the Filipinos in Doha were so excited. Some sent cakes to our hotel rooms. Winners from different countries went to Caloy and gave him souvenirs. Caloy felt bad he had nothing to exchange. China’s overall champion Xiao Ruoteng went to our table and congratulated Caloy who was the youngest male gymnast in the competition. Japanese girls had selfies with him. It’s hard to get a medal at this level. Russian President Vladimir Putin even phoned Dalaloyan to inspire him. That’s how important sports is to boost national pride. The diplomat VVIP section was full of ambassadors. Our own ambassador Alan Timbayan had never witnessed a gymnastics competition and was amazed at how Caloy performed.”
Carrion said Yulo’s brother Eldrew, 10, and sister Anya, 6, are now training to follow in his footsteps. “Caloy comes from a poor family in Leveriza,” she said. “His parents make a living as travel agents. The family is very supportive of Caloy and motivates him a lot. His grandfather is always in the gym watching over Caloy, Eldrew and Anya. When Caloy was just starting, I saw his potential and hired coach Mune. At that time, the PSC had no allocation for a foreign coach but I was able to secure financial assistance from the Houston Filipino Restaurant Good Work Mission Foundation. After two years, the PSC took over paying for coach Mune.”
Carrion said the PSC supported Yulo’s participation with Kugimiya in Doha while POC president Ricky Vargas took care of Japanese therapist Jumpei Konne to join them. Yulo is back training in Tokyo with Kugimiya and Konne and will compete next in the eighth leg of the World Cup Series in Cottbus, Germany, on Nov. 22-25. He will take a short holiday break in Manila from Dec. 23 to the first week of January then it’s back to the grind in Tokyo.