ONE would think that gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo would be satisfied with the 5 gold and 2 silver medals tucked under his belt, cementing his reputation as the country’s most outstanding individual Filipino athletes at the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.
However, surprisingly, Yulo was far from satisfied by his spectacular showing that climaxed with golds in the men’s vault, horizontal bars plus a silver in the parallel bars at the Quang Ngua Sports Palace in Hanoi Monday night.
The reigning world vault champion, expectedly, handily secured the event with a top score of 14.700 points.
He kicked off his bid with an eye-popping dragulescu – the front handspring, double front half out stunt named after two-time Romanian world vault champion Marion Dragulescu – on his first try for 14.800 points then had 14.600 in his second vault, to get his average winning score of the two vaults.
Yulo shared the high bar gold with hometown bet Dinh Phuong Thanh, scoring identical scores of 13.867 each, the Filipino getting high marks for degree of difficulty (6.40 to 6.00) but which Dinh offset with the better execution (8.867 to 8.467).
Showing that he is also fallible, Yulo settled for silver in the parallel bars to Dinh, who scored 15.133 to the latter’s 14.900, an event he was fancied to win after taking runner-up honors in the world meet held in Kitakyushu, Japan last November 2021.
The pint-sized champ also had golds in the individual all-around, floor exercise and rings and likewise netted a silver in the team all-around, boosting the national gymnastics team to the top of heap of the seven-nation competition with 7 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze medal.
“Siyempre super happy po pero hindi pa rin ako satisfied sa mga nagawa ko. Gusto ko pa pong galingan sa next competition ko po (I am super happy but I am still not satisfied the way I performed. I want to do better in my next competition),” said the Philippine golden boy of these SEA Games.
He mentioned his “sub-par” performance in the parallel bars as one of the events where he could have done better, acknowledging that “I did not deserve the gold there because of my performance,” and the pommel horse where he missed out on a podium finish out of the eight events he saw action in.
“Even I had not won in the pommel horse, at least I wanted to have success in my routine,” Yulo explained.
But what gave him satisfaction was being able to see action in all of the eight events in the men’s artistic gymnastics competition in his bid to become a better all-around gymnast like his icon, former Japanese world and Olympic all-around champion Kohei Ichimura.
“Physically wise there were no aches and pains, just fatigue because of the many events I competed in. Also focusing on my events was tiring, especially not to take it easy. This is what I experienced so I can be a better all-rounder,” the gymnast said.
Another lesson learned, he added, was in handling the pressure and anxiety of the high expectations from the public after proving himself as an elite athlete in his sport.
“Handling the pressure and nerves in the SEA Games is another lesson that I continue to keep on learning,” he explained.
Unlike other athletes who would love to take a long break after the taxing SEA Games grind, Yulo revealed that he had no such luxury from his Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimigya, who wanted them back to the gym at once the moment they were back in Tokyo, Japan.
He said this was needed because they were priming for the Asian Gymnastics Championships scheduled from June 15 to 18 in Doha, Qatar, which will serve as a qualifying event to the 41st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Liverpool, England in October.
“Imposible kay coach Mune (Kugimiya’s nickname) ang mahabang break. Isang araw tama na (There is no such thing as a long break. One day of rest is enough,” Yulo said, with a smile in his voice.