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Becoming the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics champion: How Carlos Yulo discovered gymnastics, meeting Coach Mune, going beyond expectations

We now know Carlos Yulo as the first Filipino to win gold at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics. But back in the day, he was just a regular 7-year-old child horsing around at a Malate park, trying his hand at tumbling routines.

Then he saw their neighbor, a gymnast doing stunts.

"May nakikita nga silang dating gymnast na nandito na kapitbahay namin na tuma-tumbling so naengganyo sila na gumaya rin," said Yulo’s mom Angelica on a Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho episode Sunday.

[They saw our neighbor, who was a gymnast doing a routine. It encouraged them]

At age 13, he started training with Coach Mune of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP). “Siya po yung nag-mold sa akin, maliit pa po ako [noon],” Carlos narrates.

[He was the one who molded me, starting when I was still a little child]

From spending one year on just the basics like stretching, Carlos and his coach went on to develop his muscles “lalo na po sa abs and sa arms. Yung pagme-make po ng muscles, inabot kami ng two years.”

According to GAP President Cynthia Carrion-Norton, GAP hired Coach Mune when Carlos started winning gold medals at the Palarong Pambansa.

Coach Mune, Cynthia continued, was the one who encouraged her to give Yulo more experiences and exposure.

“Coach Mune said, ‘Ma’am, this Caloy, I have to take him to the Junior World Championship’,” Cynthia continued.

She admits to not thinking much of Carlos but Carlos — and Coach Mune — made her notice: He took home 3rd place at the junior world championships held in Russia.

At the 2019 World Gymnastics Championship, Carlos stunned the world with his perfect double straight with a full twist stunt. It earned for him a world championship title and new-found recognition.

He is the first Filipino to ever become a gold medalist after all.

According to Carlos, winning the gold medal was something he did not expect. His only intention, he said, was to show how beautiful the sport really is.

“Habang nagro-routine po ako, iniisip ko na lang na gusto kong ipakita sa buong mundo kung gaano talaga kaganda yung gymnastics," he said.

[While doing the routine, I was thinking, I really just wanted to show the world how beautiful gymnastics can be]

And then he saw the score his Isaraelian opponent got: 15.200. “Hindi pa po ako nakaka-reach ng ganong points, so that's my first time po na maka-15.300 po," he said.

[I saw the Isrealian scored a 15.200. I’ve never reached that many points. It was also my first time to reach at 15.300]

He adds, “Sobrang unexpected po yung nangyari like hindi naman po kasi ako nage-expect ng medal. Result lang po yung gusto kong makita," Yulo narrated.

[It was all unexpected. I didn’t expect a medal. I just wanted to see the results]

Gymnastics has totally changed Carlos’ life. Apart from being able to build a home for his family from his prize winnings, gymnastics has helped Carlos come out of his shell.

“Sobrang mahiyain po talaga ako [dati], Hindi po ako nakikipag-usap,” he began.

[I was really shy before. I couldn't even talk to people.]

Just last week, he even met the President, visiting Malacanang with other Filipino athletes like 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championship gold medalist Nesthy Petecio and silver medalist Eumir Marcial, first Filipino qualifier for Tokyo Olympics and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and IWF World Weightlifting Olympian and bronze medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

But there’s a long road ahead of the 19-year-old gymnast. Most immediate is the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, for which, he says, he doesn’t feel that much pressure.

“Kasi I’m still a challenger. Kung matalo man, aral na lang po yung sa akin. Walang talo, all are a win po.” — Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/LA, GMA News