TOKYO - Top Philippine medal hope Caloy Yulo was broken but unbowed at the end of his campaign in men's gymnastics on Monday, vowing to keep chasing his lifelong dream of winning an Olympic gold medal.
"Hindi po ako susuko," he said defiantly at the end of the men's vault finals where he fell a whisker short of a place in the podium.
The medal-less campaign was not what Philippine officials expected from Yulo, who came in as the reigning champion in the floor exercise with two years of continious training in Japan behind him.
But a below-par performance in the qualifying phase that left him out of the finals of his favorite floor exercise event suddenly dimmed his medal chances.
He put on a heroic performance in the only event where he reached the finals, getting into contention behind a Dragulescu handspring double front with half turn that earned him a 14.866 - the second highest jump in the entire vault program.
However, his 14.716 aggregate fell just .017 points off the bronze-medal winning 14.733 points of Armenia's Artur Davtyan and .067 behind gold winner Shin Jea Hwan of Korea and Russian silver medalist Denis Abliazin (both 14.783).
So near and yet so far
"Sobrang lapit ko na po, pero hindi ko pa naabot," said the Manila-born gymnast. "Nakakapang-hinayang din po kasi ang ganda po ng practice ko tapos pagdating po dito, naging ganoon."
He rued a shaky landing in his first jump where he stepped out of the line, saying it cost him a medal.
"May chance din po sana akong makakuha ng medal if hindi po ako lumagpas sa linya," he said. "Kasi ang ganda po ng second vault ko eh, sa first vault lang po ako nagkamali."
Yulo has been based in Japan for five years and hasn't seen his family in the Philippines since he saw action in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. He longed to see them again but still can't, saying he is set to compete in a Japan tournament next month.
"Gusto ko na nga pong umuwi, gusto ko na nga pong bumawi. Gusto kong magpalakas," he said. "Pero hindi po muna ako makakauwi sa Pilipinas dahil may competition po ako next month."
Disappointed as he was, Yulo believes this is just a temporary setback, promising to continue on in his quest for an Olympic gold medal.
"Feeling ko po may igagaling pa ako. Next target ko po ang Paris 2024. Pero next time po, di po ako sasali na para makalaro lang, kailangan sa pagbalik ko magka-medal na ako. Hindi po ako susuko," he vowed.
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