By the Philippine Sports Commission
Videos Courtesy FIG Artistic Gymnastics

The 19-year-old Yulo gave a historic feat in Philippine sports for winning the floor exercise event in the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany last October 12, 2019. He returned to Manila on Monday, October 14.

Yulo and his coach, Munehiro Kugimiya, were earlier scheduled to fly back to Tokyo to resume training.

But they were prevailed upon by GAP president Cynthia Carrion to first return to Manila, as Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez was arranging for all three to pay a courtesy call to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday in Malacanang.

“We are thrilled with the golden performance with Yulo at the world champs. President Rodrigo Duterte is happy,” Ramirez said in a statement.

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“Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and (former Special Assistant to the President and) Sen. Bong Go has been monitoring the competition,” he added. “The Office of the President and the PSC family congratulates Caloy on this achievement. Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino!”

Also offering his congratulations was Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

“His hard work and dedication paid off,” said Tolentino. “His accomplishment should inspire our other athletes to do well in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.”

Performing next to the last among eighth finalists, Yulo put on a tremendous display of grace, artistry, and athleticism in securing the gold with an eye-popping score of 15.300 points.

Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat had earlier tallied a seemingly untouchable score of 15.200 but was beaten by Yulo by a hairline.

Playing a major factor in the victory was the degree of difficulty of Yulo’s routine — the highest among the entries at 6.500 to Dolgopyat’s 6.400 — that proved to be the winning edge

Likewise eclipsed by Yulo’s triumph was China’s Xiao Ruoteng, the men’s all-around silver medalist in the 2018 edition held in Doha, Qatar, who seemed a cinch for silver with his score of 14.933, only to be relegated to the bronze in the face of the Filipino’s virtuoso performance.

For the first time in the 41 editions of the global gymnastics showcase, the Philippine national anthem was played in the tournament that drew the best gymnasts from 92 countries to this picturesque German city.

“I am speechless because I did not expect to win because I thought the Israeli’s score was far too high,” admitted Yulo. “But I wanted to show everyone what I could do so I just wanted to do my best. Talagang napakasaya ko po.”

“I am happy for Caloy because all his hard work and sacrifice paid off,” noted Kugimiya. “Actually he has done better in practice so I was confident about his performance.”

During the post-event interview, Yulo paid tribute to Kugimiya by taking off the gold medal and draping it around the Japanese mentor’s neck.

“Mas confident po ako sa landing ko ngayon kaysa duon sa all-around finals last Friday. Malaking bagay din po iyon,” said Yulo. “It was God who gave me this gold because I could not have done it on my own.”

The golden finish ensured that Yulo will see action in two men’s artistic gymnastics events in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

He earlier qualified for the men’s all-around event as early as Monday when he finished 18th in the qualifiers, and underscored that the feat was no fluke when he placed No. 10 in the finals last Friday.

“I’m a bit scared now,” admitted Yulo, knowing that he would be a marked man in the event in the Tokyo Olympics.

Carrion, for her part, is hopeful that Yulo’s achievement will shine a spotlight on their sport.

“Caloy’s (Yulo’s nickname) victory will have a huge impact on Philippine gymnastics since he has proven that we can produce world champions in the sport,” she said.

“We hope that we will get more supporters for the sport now with his success.”

Yulo will receive P1 million for his achievements. The PSC added P500,000 more as a monetary reward for setting a historic mark as the first Filipino world champion in the sport.

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