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Gymnasts eye better training conditions

KUALA LUMPUR – National gymnasts leaving the 29th Southeast Asian Games are hoping for better training conditions at home when they resume preparations for future international competitions.

“Our equipment is okay, the problem is the heat and humidity in the gym,” said national women’s coach Jasmin Ortega.

Ortega said national gymnasts train year-round, but have to endure stifling heat because of the absence of air-conditioning.

The gymnastics center located beside the Rizal Memorial coliseum does not have provisions for air-conditioning, according to Ortega.

“It’s not that we are demanding comfortable conditions, but we’re only after the safety of our athletes,” she said.

Russian coaches, who help the national team, have warned national mentors that training above 25 degrees is harmful to gymnasts, according to Ortega.

“Eh, tayo, nag-eensayo more than 30 degrees ang init,” she said. “The conditions are even worse during summer.”

Ortega said the conditions take a big toll not only on the gymnasts, but the equipment as well.

“Sometimes nasusugatan ang mga bata dahil sa heat and friction they cause from practising,” she said.

With the country hosting the Games in 2019, Ortega is hoping that sports officials will take a second look on their training conditions and the need for more overseas exposure.

“We’re keeping the four girls for the next Games. We may have to add one from the junior ranks to complete the team,” she said.

Petite Kaitlin dela Cruz, who is based in Texas, United States, accounted for three of five medals won by the team in artistic gymnastics. She won the gold in the uneven bars, silver in the floor exercises and bronze in balance beam.

Reyland Capellan won the other two – gold in floor exercises and bronze in the vault.

Ortega said they are excited to have up-and-coming Carlos Yulo who will be eligible in the next Games.

Yulo, 17, won the gold in the parallel bars during the Asian junior gymnastics championships last May in Thailand. He has been training in Japan for a year now and is set to attend college there.

“That’s where he needs our support kasi siyempre, iba ang gastos pag college ka na,” said Ortega.