BANGKOK: Despite the pain, Carlos Yulo shone brightly for the Philippines on Sunday, capturing the boys parallel bars title in impressive fashion in the 14th Asian Juniors Gymnastics Championships at the Nimibtur Gymnasium here.
Bucking a badly-sprained left ankle, Yulo sealed the gold with a score of 13.825 points, narrowly beating Japanese silver medalist Takeru Kitazono (13.75), while humbling China’s fancied Chen Yihao, who took the bronze (13.65), in exiting the tournament with a bang.
“I’m happy with this gold but it’s still painful,” said the diminutive Pinoy dynamo, referring to the injury he suffered in practice last Tuesday that nearly sidelined him from competing in his one and only Asian Juniors stint.
It was a significant achievement for the Filipino gymnast, who became the only Southeast Asian entry in the tournament to break the monopoly of established powers like China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea.
“Training, training, training. It all paid off,” said proud Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya of his ward, who had been training intensively for nearly a year in the Japan national training center in Tokyo through the support of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Performing as the No. 6 in the order of eight finalists, Yulo, a picture of poise and coolness, eclipsed his successors with that score of 13.825 points, leaving Chen (No. 7) and Kitazono (No. 8) as his remaining rivals.
But Chen was tentative while Kitazono wobbled when he landed in blemishing an otherwise superb performance.