Mendoza: Reminiscing while watching Yulo win

Al Mendoza

I WENT to the Rizal Memorial Coliseum (RMC) on Sunday for two reasons, breaking a long-time tradition of mine of not leaving home on a Sunday. My glass mates respect this with reverence.

The first reason was to watch Carlos “Caloy” Yulo fulfill his dream of winning his gymnastics all-around gold in front of his countrymen.

The men’s all-around is the tough, six-event menu of floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar and the exceedingly daunting vault.

He breezed through his mission, his world-class traits too much to surpass, if not match, by his challengers from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The 19-year-old Yulo, recently crowned world champion in floor exercise in Stuttgart, Germany, to clinch an Olympic slot in Tokyo 2020, easily prevailed. Vietnam settled for the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

“I was a bit nervous due to the pressure of performing before my countrymen,” said Yulo, who entered the arena with his head covered by his jacket in a bid to muffle the lusty cheers that greeted his entrance.

Starting from his warm-up to actual competition moves all the way to his climb to the podium to receive his gold medal from Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez, Yulo was virtually wrapped in ovations by an adoring crowd that eternally chanted “Yulo! Yulo!” They started queuing up as early as four hours before the Coliseum gates opened.

Ah, RMC. You are the second reason I had to leave home on a Sunday: To see with my own eyes the renovation done on you.

Passing grade, at least, as the stairways, for one, are too high, making the new RMC, built in 1954 yet, simply not senior-friendly.

But it’s air-conditioned now.

Big relief.

Back in the ‘70s to the ‘80s, it was torture then for us long-haired lads covering the UAAP, NCAA and the MICAA basketball tournaments at the then almost oven-hot RMC.

We wrote our stories minus laptops and wi-fi.

Just pen and paper.

Those were the days. They tug at the heart. Still.