Prized gymnast Kaitlin de Guzman will not see action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, a massive blow to the country’s bid to capture the overall crown in the biennial regional sports competition.
Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) secretary general Bettina Pou on Wednesday revealed that the United States-based wunderkind suffered injuries that would keep her out of the prestigious sports meet set at the Clark New City in Capas, Tarlac from 30 November to 11 December.
Pou said De Guzman has been inactive for the past two months and underwent surgeries to treat her recurring elbow and hip injuries.
“Kaitlin has elbow and hip injuries so she cannot train for the SEA Games,” said Pou referring to the 18-year-old daughter of Cintamoni, a gold medalist in the uneven bars event of the Chiang Mai SEA Games in 1995.
“She underwent surgery in her hips, which is already an old injury. Then, she had problems with her arms. That’s why we no longer submit her name. Her mom also pulled her out two months ago because she couldn’t go to training.”
Pou admitted that De Guzman’s absence in the SEA Games was a big letdown as GAP aims to win as many as gold medals possible to help the country’s goal of bagging the overall title.
De Guzman won three medals in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games – gold in the uneven bars in artistic gymnastics, silver in floor exercises and bronze in balance beam.
De Guzman, according to the GAP official, will continue to compete for the country and will be going to college in an athletic scholarship.
But Pou said the team has to move on and is now preparing to compete in Singapore Open and the Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The team will leave for Singapore on 30 May for the four-day meet, which starts on 1 June.
“The Singapore Open is for the exposure because those who will be there will also compete in the SEA Games,” said Pou, speaking on behalf of GAP president Cynthia Carrion.
“The Asian Championships is the heavier competition because the best gymnasts of Asia will be there.”
Save for Carlos Yulo, the rest of the gymnastics team members will compete in Singapore Open. The country’s top gymnast, however, will join the squad in the Asian Championship set from 17 to 24 July in Ulaanbaatar.
Pou added that after the two international meets, GAP will set up a two-month training camp in Taiwan for their participation in the SEA Games and World Championships, scheduled from 4 to 13 October.
“The coaches picked Taiwan for the training camp because there are good athletes there and can work with them from July to August,” Pou said.
Yulo, the country’s top gymnast, will spearhead the campaign of the Philippine team in the World Championship and tries to earn more points to qualify directly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.
Yulo just won a bronze medal in the men’s floor exercises event of the 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastic World Cup in Doha, Qatar.