A cash windfall, a warm welcome from President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang and a bigger challenge await newly crowned world gymnastic champion Carlos Yulo when he returns home on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Yulo won a historic gold medal in the men’s floor exercises of the 49th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, late Saturday, giving the Philippines its first-ever world champion in the sport.
“We are all thrilled with the golden performance of Caloy [Yulo’s nickname] in the world championships. The President is happy, said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez.
Malacañang on Sunday praised Yulo’s win, saying the country could expect “great things” from him in the coming Tokyo Olympics.
“It is truly a historic event and we celebrate Yulo’s win with all our fellow Filipinos,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
READ: PSC promises support for Obiena, Yulo
“We expect great things from this talented young man at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
A cash incentive of at least P500,000 or as much as P1 million is guaranteed by the government for Yulo based on Republic Act 10699, also known as an “Act Expanding the Coverage of Incentives Granted to the National Athletes and Coaches.”
During the world meet, Yulo scored a personal-best 84.048 points over the six apparatuses as he stood his own against the top Russian gymnasts in the all-around event.
READ: Yulo earns Tokyo Olympics’ seat
“First time ko pong maka-iskor ng 84-plus kaya talagang mataas po iyon. Talagang masaya ‘ko dahil doon, Yulo said.
Ramirez was arranging for Yulo to pay a courtesy call on President Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday.
“We are, of course, super proud of him. He will be arriving Manila on October 15, staying only until 17 as he needs to get back to school, said Gymnastics Association of the Philippines secretary general Bettina Pou.
After his brief three-day Philippine visit, Yulo will extend his training with his coach Munehiro Kugiyama in Japan and continue his studies as a scholar at Teikyo University.
“I am happy for Caloy because all his hard work and sacrifice paid off. Actually, he has done better in practice, so I was confident about his performance,” said Kugiyama
Yulo paid tribute to Kugimiya by taking off the gold medal and draping it around the Japanese mentor’s neck after the awarding ceremonies.
Since he has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Yulo will use his stint in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games to be hosted by the Philippines as part of his preparations for the bigger challenge of the Olympiad and other international meets as well.
“We still need to find out from coach Mune [Kugiyama] if he [Yulo] will be competing in any world championships next year before the Olympic Games, said Pou.
Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are the Philippines’ only two qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics so far.
Ramirez said that the PSC will back Obiena and Yulo in their Tokyo 2020 campaigns.
Like Obiena, there are plans to provide Yulo his own team composed of a physiotherapist, sports nutritionist and sports psychologist, along with his housing and nutrition requirements.
During the finals on Saturday, Yulo tallied a score of 15.300 points in his favorite event―the floor exercise finals.
Yulo’s gold was an improvement of his bronze-medal win in the same competition last year in Doha, Qatar.
Artem Dolgopyat of Israel placed second with a score of 15.200, while Xiao Ruteng of China took third with a score of 14.933.
“The performance of Caloy is really outstanding considering that those in the Top 10 are Russians, Chinese, Japanese and Americans, who are the best in the world in gymnastics,” said GAP president Cynthia Carrion. With MJ Blancaflor
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