At the elite level of men’s artistic gymnastics, including the Olympic Games, the smallest point deductions could spell the difference for a gymnast going home with or without a medal.
So Carlos Edriel Yulo of the Philippines was understandably crestfallen after being penalized .10 of a point in his first attempt, narrowly missing a bronze medal to land fourth with a score of 14.716 points in the men’s vault final of the Tokyo Olympics at Ariake Gymnastics Centre Monday night.
Aiming at redemption after stumbling out of his pet floor exercise event last July 24, Yulo looked dazzling in the air on his first try but landed with his feet apart, the right foot stepping out of the mat, resulting in the costly penalty and a score of 14.566 points
Not even an error-free second try that netted a high score of 14.866 points could lift him up to the podium after both scores were averaged for the final overall result.
“Wala na po tayo magagawa doon. Sobrang lapit ko na po. May chance po na makakuha ng medal kung hindi po ako lumagpas (I can do nothing about what happened. I was so close. I had a chance of a medal if my foot did not go out),” Yulo rued after returning from his outing.
“Nakakahinayang lang po kasi ang ganda ng second vault ko (It was regrettable because my second vaut was quite good).”
Yulo, the reigning world floor exercise champion, could have gotten a maximum score of 14.766 points without the infraction, surpassing Armenian Artur Davtyan, who averaged 14.733 points (14.800-14.600) to secure the bronze medal.
These increments were also key in deciding the gold medalist after South Korean Shin Jeahwan and Russian Denis Abliazin both tied for first with identical scores of 14.873 points.
Between them, Shin had the better score of the two vaults — the second at 14.833 to Abliazin’s 14.800 — for the tie-breaker before the scores were averaged for the final score.
While disappointed by his Olympic debut, the pint-size phenom remained upbeat and vowed to recover in his succeeding international events.
“Gusto kong magpalakas. Feeling ko po may igagaling pa ako. (I want to get stronger. I feel I still have much to improve,” said the athlete, who has been a protégé of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines, the sport’s national governing body, since he was 7.
Although he has been training in Japan for over a year, the gymnast said he may not be able to come back home right away since he still has meets there in the succeeding months.
This includes the 50th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships scheduled October 18 to 24 in the city Kitakyushu, 1,021 kilometers southwest of Tokyo in the prefecture of Fukuoka, where he hopes to defend his floor exercise title.
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