Yulo’s coach targets gold

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Yuloâs coach targets gold
Caloy Yulo
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Caloy Yulo’s Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya expects stiff competition at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in the Fukuoka prefecture but is confident the Filipino will defend his title in the floor exercise and land a podium finish in at least another event as he performs in the qualifying stage at 4:20 p.m. (Manila time) tomorrow.

Yulo, 21, is bracketed in Subdivision 7 with athletes from Uzbekistan, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland and Croatia. He will focus on the floor exercise, vault and parallel bars but is also participating in the pommel horse, rings and horizontal bar to round out the six events in hoping to make the 24-man cutoff for the individual all-around final on Friday. The top eight in the six apparatus will advance to the finals with the floor, pommel horse and rings set on Saturday and the vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar on Sunday.

“The World Championships are harder than the Olympics because of stronger specialists,” said Kugimiya. “But we are training harder for gold. I don’t want to lose anymore.” It was Kugimiya who coined the battlecry “Revenge The Tokyo” after Yulo failed to bag a medal at the recent Olympics. Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion, who is in Kitakyushu, said Yulo was impressive in podium training last weekend. “He did so well,” said Carrion. “They split the athletes into subdivisions because they’re too many. In all, there are 307 athletes, men and women, from 56 countries. A lot of the athletes wanted to take a photo with Caloy. When he performs, everyone watches, there is complete silence then applause. He’s the only one who gets applauded. Let’s pray he does in the competition proper as he did in podium training. There will be spectators but well-managed due to the pandemic.”

Carrion arrived in Kitakyushu last Friday. Athletes, coaches and officials are restricted to travel only from hotel to training hall or competition venue and back in a bubble. International Gymnastics Federation president Morinari Watanabe said the event is “nearly unparalleled” in history as it marks the first World Championships in the same year as the Olympics in over two decades. Yulo is one of three defending world champions in Kitakyushu with Turkey’s Ibrahim Colak (rings) and Brazil’s Arthur Nory (horizontal bar) the others. Yulo is coming off a strong showing at the All-Japan Seniors and Masters where he captured the gold in floor and bronze in vault.

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