By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
RIDING the momentum of the recent success of gymnast Carlos Yulo in international competitions, the Philippine gymnastics team is expecting to do well when competition in the 30th Southeast Asian Games unfurls this weekend.
Fielding in 23 athletes, the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) said it is targeting at least 10 gold medals in the competition, believing that the entire team is coming in prepared.
Leading the Philippine contingent is 19-year-old Carlos Edriel Yulo, who recently made Philippine gymnastics history by being the first Filipino to win a gold medal in the World Championship recently held in Stuttgart, Germany.
His strong showing in the Worlds also allowed him to book a spot for next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Mr. Yulo said he is eyeing a sweep of all seven events he is competing in.
For GAP secretary-general Bettina Pou, it is not only Mr. Yulo who is upbeat of his chances but the entire team as well.
“The team is very positive heading into the Games. There is some nervousness, of course, since we are also playing here at home but the athletes are not allowing it to affect their focus. We are targeting at least 10 gold medals,” said Ms. Pou in an interview.
In the last edition of the SEA Games in 2017 in Malaysia, gymnastics gave two gold medals in the 23-gold medal haul of the country.
Kaitlin De Guzman and Reyland Capellan bagged gold medals in the women’s artistic uneven bar and men’s artistic floor exercise, respectively.
The GAP official said the federation sees the about-to-start SEA Games as a good opportunity to showcase the potential of gymnastics as a sport that Filipinos can really excel in.
“The athletes know that if they do well it will not only benefit them but the entire gymnastics community in the country,” said Ms. Pou.
“They really worked hard in training both here and abroad and determined to put up a good showing. And we’re really behind them all the way and we see them doing well. Hopefully the people would go out and support them as well as the other Filipino athletes,” she added.
Gymnastics events in the SEA Games will all take place at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, beginning with artistic gymnastics on Dec. 1 until Dec. 4.
Rhythmic gymnastics takes place from Dec. 6 to 7 while aerobics gymnastics is on Dec. 9.