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The Inspiring Story of Gymnastics Superstar Carlos Yulo

Carlos Yulo, Filipino gymnastics superstar, comes from humble beginnings.
IMAGE Jerome Ascano

Carlos Yulo made headlines when he delivered back-to-back victories for the Philippines in October, first by qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, and then becoming the first Filipino gymnastics world champion at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Since then, Yulo’s star has only continued to rise higher and higher.

Carlos Yulo’s Early Life

Carlos Yulo was born on Februray 16, 2000 in Manila to a middle-class family. From a very tender age, Yulo exhibited great interest in gymnastics. Their family lives close to the Rizal Memorial Stadium, where Yulo, as young as five years old, would spend whole afternoons watching the Philippines’ top gymnasts training.

Yulo and his friends would play acrobatics at the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila, a playground and park near the Manila Zoo, until one day, his grandfather saw him doing some somersaults. Instead of scolding the young Caloy, he took him to the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP), where he was accepted as a protégé. He was only seven years old at the time.


The GAP guided him and helped him get professional coaching, while the Philippine Sports Commission provided free training at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

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He started competing in 2008 when he was only eight years old. In 2011, he won four gold medals at the Palarong Pambansa.

Where did Carlos Yulo Study?

Yulo attended grade school at the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School, and high school at the Adamson University with help from GAP.


In 2016, Japan sent one of its best gymnastics coaches to the Philippines to train Filipino gymnasts as a gesture of goodwill. That coach was Munehiro Kugimiya. At the time, the GAP asked Yulo if he was willing to train with Kugimiya for three years in Japan, to which he humbly replied that he would have to ask his mom.


The sixteen-year-old Yulo eventually agreed to train in Japan for three years, where he underwent rigorous work and exercise. Despite his training, Yulo did not drop out of school. He enrolled at Teikyo University where he took up Literature.

His parents did not expect he would win the World Championships

When Yulo competed in Germany in October 2019 for the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, his parents didn’t bother staying up very late into the morning to watch Caloy’s signature floor exercise.

“We weren’t able to watch the live streaming on YouTube because we really did not expect Caloy to win,” said Angelica Yulo, Caloy’s mother, in a report by Manila Bulletin. “Because the last time we watched the all-around, we ended up staying until 2:30 a.m. We’re supposed to be up at 5:30 a.m. every day.”

They got the surprise of a lifetime when their phone rang in the middle of the night, with Caloy’s coach breaking the news. Then, at 1:00 a.m., Caloy himself called them, expressing his utter joy. Angelica revealed to Manila Bulletin that Caloy wanted to cry during the awarding ceremony, but that he was shy.


Caloy is the second child in four siblings. Joriel, 21, is the eldest and was a member of the National University Pep Squad. Their two younger siblings Karl, 11, and Iza, 10, are also into gymnastics.

Watch a video below of a cheerful 12-year-old Yulo as he talks about the Palarong Pambansa way back in 2012.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.









About the author
Mario Alvaro Limos for Esquire PH

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Maybe I'm just a learner, not a weirdo. A learner that knows how to listen and pretend. A simple learner who's a great pretender. Pretending to be slightly dumb enough not to be judged and criticized by those who do not appreciate my existence. We surround ourselves with people who's levels are either beyond or below our intellectual behavior, because as for reality, people may use you either for their success or your downfall. Since then, people tend to judge someone who has an intellect with things they shouldn't be. Making them a criticizer, and most of all, calling them weird.

Honestly, I'm one of this "weirdo" who actually loves to learn things, and for the record, I'm bullied and stressed out for making myself not to learn more and go with the flow to dumbness I had. Have you ever feel being assigned to some task where you know every process to make it easier and faster to finish but turns out to hesitate to voice out because some of your mates put themselves in charge. There are times where I know what to do, what to say, or how to react, but kept myself silent and pretend not to know anything that may help us. Maybe it's a good thing to just go with their ideas and learn from their perspectives, but sometimes you can't control it and says something, and once again called to be a weirdo and let you finish the work by yourself.

It's annoying that you only know one process yet they gave you the whole work and let you finish it by yourself because they insist that "MAGALING KA DIBA?". It's not your fault being an intellectual person, knowing such things that may help you to pursue your dreams, and have the basic knowledge about something. You don't need to know everything, just the basics. And as for those people who do not appreciate your existence, let them be and continue what's the best for you. In some cases, you'll be annoyed by this but most of the time you'll be thankful for it. Not for now but maybe later. Just be yourself either a weirdo, a great pretender, or a simple learner, and always remember to lower your voice and behavior because no one loves that.

Just be a great pretender not to hear any runts and be a good learner that appreciates everything. It's out of nowhere thoughts of mine, but simply I leave you this my favorite life quotation; "Don't introduce yourself, Let your success introduce you"

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