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Carlos Yulo: Humble beginnings give birth to world champion gymnast

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By Rey Bancod

The parents of gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo went to bed late Saturday, unmindful of the history unfolding thousands of miles away in Stuttgart, Germany, site of the world artistic gymnastics championships.

Angelica Yulo, right, and Mark Andrew Yulo, left, mother and father of Carlos Edriel Yulo, show the other medals obtained by their son inside their home in Malate, Manila. Carlos is the first Filipino gymnast to win gold at World Championships. (MB Photo / Jansen Romero)

Angelica Yulo, right, and Mark Andrew Yulo, left, mother and father of Carlos Edriel Yulo, show the other medals obtained by their son inside their home in Malate, Manila. (MB Photo / Jansen Romero)

“Hindi na po naming naabangan sa YouTube, kasi hindi po naming expect na mananalo si Caloy,” said Angelica Yulo, the mother of the 19-year-old prodigy. “Kasi po nung nanood kami ng all-around, inabot kami ng 2:30 a.m., eh 5:30 a.m. po ang gising namin araw-araw.”

Angelica said they were roused from sleep by a call from Singapore where the rest of the national team is training for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Gold medalist Carlos Edriel Yulo of the Philippines performs in the floor exercise in the men's apparatus finals at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Gold medalist Carlos Edriel Yulo of the Philippines performs in the floor exercise in the men’s apparatus finals at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Yulo, the 4-11 dynamo, had just completed the unthinkable, win the world title in floor exercise.

“Tumawag po si coach Ricardo (Ortero) para sabihin sa amin ang resulta, nagkagulo sa bahay,” Angelica recalled.

“Yung asawa ko nga hinahampas yung TV ng tuwalya sa tuwa.”

Angelica admitted that the victory came as a big surprise.

“Hindi po naming akalain kasi never pa naka 15 points si Caloy sa floor exercise. 14.8 po kasi ang best score niya,” she said.

Yulo posted 15.3 points after performing a routine, more difficult than the one he did when he booked a spot in next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

Angelica said her son called around 1 a.m. in Germany, saying he wanted to cry during the award ceremony.

“Nahihiya daw siya,” she said. “Tinanong ko bakit hindi pa siya natutulog. Hindi raw siya makatulog sa tuwa. Magpapasyal daw sila sa mga museum.”

Gymnastics is virtually alien to a country that considers basketball as a religion. There’s no live television coverage and major newspapers relied on pool reports or wire services to cover the world championships.

Angelica believes that Carlos got his talent from his father Mark Andrew who works as a messenger.

“Dati kasing street dancer ‘yung tatay niya,” she said.

Carlos’ siblings – Karl Eldrew, 11, and Iza, 10 – are also into gymnastics.

Joriel, the eldest at 21, is a member of the National University pep squad.

Carlos honed his skills at the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila, a public park near Manila Zoo along with a group of other young tumblers.

One day, Angelica narrated, the group went to Rizal Memorial and saw national gymnasts training.

The coach, whose name Angelica could not recall, allowed the boys to show off their skills and immediately invited them to show what they got.

Only Carlos went on to pursue gymnastics at the age of 7. He finished high school at Adamson courtesy of the national gymnastics association.

In 2013, Carlos was convinced to train in Japan by his Japanese coach Munehiro Kugemiya. He enrolled at the Teikyo University taking up literature.

Angelica said their dream is to visit Carlos in Japan. Her wish may yet become a reality sooner than later.

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