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Gymnast Yulo kicks off PHL campaign in Bangkok

Japan-trained Carlos Yulo kicks off the Philippine campaign in the 14th Asian Juniors Artistic Gymnastics Championships at the Nimibutr Gymnasium in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok on Wednesday.

Yulo, who trained with the Japanese national team in Tokyo for one year as part of the Olympic Solidarity Program, is competing in six events namely floor exercise, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, vault and high bar.

Japanese Munehiro Kugiyama, tapped by the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) to coach the men’s team, said Yulo can win a medal in all six events.

GAP President Cynthia Carrion, who is also vice president for Southeast Asia of the Asian Gymnastics Union (AGU), has described the 16-year-old Yulo as a potential medal winner in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Last year, Yulo won four medals – gold (rings), silver (vault and parallel bars), bronze (all-around) at the Mikhail Voronin Cup in Moscow.

The two-time Palarong Pambansa champion also captured five medals, including two golds, in the 8th Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at the Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington.

In 2015, Yulo placed third in the juniors (14-18) vault event at the International Junior Gymnastics Competition held in Yokohama, Japan.

Meanwhile, the 8th Asian Seniors Artistic Gymnastics Championships, which is being held simultaneously with the 14th Asian Junior Artistic Gymnastics Championships will begin on Thursday in the same venue.

Representing the Philippines are Cristina Onofre and Rachelle Arellano, both veterans of the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore; Erin Evangelista, Mariana Hermoso and US-based Kaitlin De Guzman.

Kaitlin is the daughter of many-time SEA Games medalist Tammy, who has migrated to the US and is now a gymnastics judge.

The men’s team is composed of 2015 SEA Games gold winner Reyland Capellan (floor exercise), Jag Timbang and Adrian Apuyan.

Capellan will only compete in the vault and floor exercise while Timbang and Apuyan are seeing action in all six events.

GAP Secretary General Bettina Pou has noted the participation of Malaysia and Indonesia in the tournament, which gauge the skills of the Filipinos against their regional rivals in the forthcoming SEA Games in Malaysia.

“Most of the rivals we will have in the SEA Games are also here so this will be a good yardstick for us against or opponents in Malaysia,” said Pou, who serves as head of the Philippine contingent which arrived in Bangkok last Monday.

Jasmin Ortega, a SEA Games gold medalist who is now coaching the women’s team said, “We really want to measure ourselves against our Southeast Asian rivals in this tournament so this is a good test for us how far we have to go. We are relatively a new team.”

“Our main goal in the SEA Games is to improve on our bronze medal finish in the team event in Singapore and perhaps the silver won by Ava Verdeflor in Malaysia,” Ortega added. (PNA)