THE Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) is hoping all the sacrifices of gymnast Caloy Yulo and efforts of the people around him will be rewarded with the elusive gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
GAP president Cynthia Carrion believes Yulo can do it.
Speaking during the 10th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom, Carrion said the 20-year-old Yulo is doing well in his training in Japan under coach Munehiro Kugimiya.
“If he (Yulo) can make all those difficult skills training in Tokyo right now, I am sure he will win the gold medal in the Olympics,” said Carrion during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Carrion said the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic could also be a blessing nin disguise for Yulo.
“When the Tokyo Olympics was postponed, I was very, very sad because he (Yulo) was in his peak. But now it’s good. I am watching the videos of his training and it was very nice. He’s learning new skills,” added Carrion, also Executive Board Member of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
“I’m just praying that he will not sustain any injury because his training is really very difficult.”
Carrion, who was widely credited for the rise of Yulo and the new-found popularity of gymnastics in the country, said boredom and being away in the country for a long time are now Yulo’s biggest obstacles.
“I promised to let him (Yulo) come home this Christmas,” said Carrion.
“I really hope he doesn’t get burned out. Right now, I know he’s very sad. All he does is train six times a week. He is missing his family, his friends. He is missing being in the country.”
Carrion admitted Yulo needs to be both physically and mentally strong.
“Caloy needs to be be physically and mentally strong. But most importantly, he also need to be spiritually strong. I gave him prayers to say every day.”
“In Japan, he has two training halls. I have to raise P145,000. He can train only three times a week in one hall and another three times a week in another hall. In gymnastics, you have to train continuously. If you don’t train for one or two days, you lose some of your skills,” explained Carrion.
On the need for more sponsors for Yulo, Carrion said:
“MVP Sports Foundation is very supportive to us. Also, Meralco Foundation. In fact, we had a zoom meeting with them and we told them the expenses that we need. They said they will try to raise the money.”
“Caloy can also go to schooling now because the MVP Foundation is paying for it.”
Looking back, Carrion said she knew right away that Yulo will be a champion the moment she spotted him with his grandfather at the Rizal Memorial Complex.
“I spotted him (Yulo) when no one did. I saw his potential. I asked him to join the Batang Pinoy and he won all the medals. Then Palarong Pambansa. So I told him I will get you a coach.”
Carrion also said International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) president Morinari Watanabe of Japan was very helpful.
“He has been a strong supporter of gymnasts from all over the world and Yulo was singled out as the only foreigner trained by Japanese gymnastic experts,” explained Carrion.
“When he was training with world-class Japanese gymnasts, there, Caloy told me he wanted to be one of them.”
“Our new GAP board is helping us a lot. We have friends who are very good at raising money. Even small amount adds up and becomes big. Actor Derek Ramsay gave us P100,000 for Caloy. Even former President Macapagal-Arroyo helped.”
“Before only Bettina and I are doing it all. Now we have a lot of good people in the board, like Jude Torcuato of PLDT, Sandra Tayag of Manila Polo Club and Makati Mayor Abby Binay, who can really help the gymnastics association.”
Carrion also thanked the PSC Board, headed by Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, for approving the financial request of the gymnastics association of P3.2-million for Yulo.
“The PSC Board has already approved our financial request. I hope we can get the money as soon as possible” said Carrion.