Young gymnasts Karl and Elaiza Yulo tell The GAME about the commitment it takes to become elite gymnasts and reveal their big goals.
Carlos Yulo is one of the Philippines’ most successful athletes. With medals from the Gymnastics World Championships, the Asian Championships, and the SEA Games, not to mention his run at the 2020 Olympics, he has become a Filipino sports icon at just 23 years old.
Becoming a household name in the Philippines, Carlos has undoubtedly inspired gymnasts nationwide who hope to one day reach the same level he has, and we can only expect the sport to grow. And it already is growing.
Following similar paths as Carlos are his two younger siblings: Karl Eldrew “Drew” Yulo and Elaiza “Yza” Yulo.
Getting to know Karl and Elaiza
While it may be easy to assume that Drew and Elaiza took after their older brother Carlos, gymnastics was introduced to all of them at young ages.
“Gymnastics is the only sport that was introduced to us. Back when we were young, our parents used to bring us to the gym whenever there are gymnastics competitions and it became our playground as well since we would play and explore in the gym,” Drew shared with The GAME.
Starting early worked out well for the Yulos.
At just 15 years old, Karl Eldrew is already a multi-medalist, not only in the local gymnastics scene, but also internationally. In fact, earlier this month, he secured a silver medal in the 2023 Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Singapore — his first podium finish in a major international tournament.
Elaiza, the youngest Yulo sibling, is also a multi-medalist herself. One of her most successful performances came just last year at the 2022 JRC Artistic Gymnastics Stars Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, where she finished with four gold medals.
With their early successes, these two are already poised to become the heirs of Philippine gymnastics, as talent seems to run in the family. And while there may be something running through their veins, each of their medals does not simply come easy to them — they are hard-earned, and are born out of the commitment that these young athletes have made to the sport.
A commitment to the sport
Most recently, both Drew and Yza competes in the Asian Junior Championships in June and are lined up to compete in Palarong Pambansa in July. As young athletes, every tournament is a chance to prove themselves and to add more experience to their belt, and they both express that “rigid training is the key.”
Leading up to the Asian Junior Championships, Karl Eldrew flew to a training camp in Japan to help him prepare, and he expressed that seeing the elite Japanese athletes motivated and inspired him to do well in the competition.
On the other hand, Elaiza also puts a lot of time and effort into her craft with two training sessions a day. She trains in the morning and in the afternoon at Intramuros, Manila. On top of this, both Drew and Yza are student-athletes who also have to focus on their studies and attend classes on top of their training camps.
Training every day and having to balance multiple things and commitments at once is by no means an easy task, especially for kids as young as these two, and the Yulos acknowledge that.
“Yes, gymnastics is a challenging and dangerous sport because one wrong move and the athlete can end up having broken bones. But our mom always reminded us that we started this journey since we are capable and we can finish it as well,” Drew said.
“There might be challenges and difficulties but we can always overcome them. There was a time Yza wanted to quit gymnastics but my mom talked to her and made her realize the importance of having sports in our lives and the life values it teaches us.”
Support as their foundation for success
One thing that may certainly lighten the load, even just a little bit, is the fact that for both Karl Eldrew and Elaiza Yulo, gymnastics is a family affair. As the two explained, they all started gymnastics when they were young, and with this as a shared experience, they are all able to support one another every step of the way.
“We, as a family, are all supportive in our endeavors,” Drew and Yza expressed.
“Our grandfather, Daddy Ed, is our personal chauffeur since he drives us to school and training every day. My parents have always had our back since we started our gymnastics journey.”
Even outside of the sport, the Yulos are very closely knit. On their rest days, Drew and Yza spend time together with their family, whether they are strolling around the mall, watching funny TikTok videos, or playing online games.
But of course, similar to many other budding athletes who represent the country, the support that the Yulos receive extends beyond their family bond, and the Yulos do not fail to credit those who have helped them reach their success.
“Of course, MILO has helped us in our active journey because when Kuya Caloy became a MILO ambassador, it helped us not only financially but also showed us how far we can reach when we excel at our sports,” they both expressed.
MILO has long been known to support Filipino athletes with its various programs, such as the MILO Sports Clinic, which has helped many kids start their sports careers in the past.
“We were awarded at the Tony Siddayao awards last March and we wouldn’t be able to do that without the support of MILO.”
With the support they receive coupled with their dedication as athletes, the Yulos are free to dream big.
Dreaming big, and taking one step at a time
Both very young athletes who still have their athletic careers ahead of them, Karl Eldrew and Elaiza Yulo have already been able to wear the Philippine flag and represent the country in international competitions — an achievement that many, if not all Filipino athletes hope to reach — and this has been a very exciting part of the experience for the two.
“An exciting part of our gymnastics journey is that we get to travel abroad while competing at the same time. We always cheer and encourage each other. Getting the opportunity to compete on an international stage is rewarding and it would be a bonus if we get to win medals,” they shared.
And they are not even close to done.
One day, both Drew and Yza hope to reach the pinnacle of the sporting world: the Olympics.
“It might be a challenging journey being that gymnastics is an expensive sport, but I believe that through hard work and determination, we can achieve this goal,” Drew shared.
As the highest level, particularly for the sport of gymnastics, it likely will be a challenging journey fighting for a place among the top gymnasts in the world. But if anyone was going to prove to them that it is indeed possible, who better than their older brother Carlos?
With Drew and Yza’s commitment to their sport, along with all the support they receive, they are definitely on a track that can uplift their careers and push them forward in the right direction. And, they also inspire other athletes to do the same.
“Our message to the kids who want to be an athlete like us is to enjoy and love what you are doing. Also, be determined and train hard for each competition you may have.”
Images courtesy of MILO.