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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Esquiremag.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.

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Mario Alvaro Limos for Esquire PH
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