Carlos Yulo enters world championships motivated by Olympic frustration

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Oct 20 2021 06:15 AM

Caloy Yulo continues on his long road back to the Olympics when he defends his floor exercise title at the gymnastics world championships this week. AFP/file
Caloy Yulo continues on his long road back to the Olympics when he defends his floor exercise title at the gymnastics world championships this week. AFP/file

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Carlos Edriel Yulo apparently intends to dish it out in spades when he springs into action beginning Wednesday in the men’s all-around qualifiers of the 50th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in Japan.

“I feel all of this competition will be (all about) revenge, all of it,” Yulo said in a surprisingly candid interview for the usually soft-spoken gymnast that was posted on the International Gymnastics Federation website

It was the Filipino athlete’s first interview since failing to live up to the expectations at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.

Viewed as a favorite as the reigning world floor exercise champion, Yulo had a mediocre outing in his Olympic debut after failing to qualify in his pet event due to a nagging hip injury suffered shortly before the Games, which not even a fourth-place finish in the men’s vault finals could assuage his pride.

“I still can’t forget what I did and how it felt, even now. Every time I think about it, it keeps me going. It pushes me to do more. I don't want it to do it again like that,” he recalled of his lackluster showing.

“This (the worlds) is like the Olympics. Every competition, big or small, I’m going to treat it like it’s the Olympics, because my target for the 2024 (Paris Games) is the all-around.

“Right now I’m doubling it. I’m doubling the work right now,” added the gymnast, whose path to redemption begins at 5:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. in Manila) when he sees action in Subdivision 7 of the men’s all-around qualifiers beginning with the vault event.

Gymnastics head Cynthia Carrion, who arrived at the competition site last week, said: “Caloy (Yulo’s nickname) finished podium training last Monday and he did so well. When he performs, everyone watches in complete silence and then followed by applause. He is the only one who gets applauded. 

“Let’s pray that he can duplicate what he did during training in the competition proper.”

Carrion sent video clips of the athlete’s workouts during training while being monitored by Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya.

In prime condition, Yulo will enter the competition armed with a gold and bronze medal in the men’s floor exercise and vault events, respectively, which he won at the 54th All-Japan Seniors Gymnastics Championships in the city of Yamagata last September.

His winning score in the floor exercise of 15.300 points duplicated his output at the world championships held 2 years ago in Stuttgart, Germany while his bronze-medal tally of 15.00 points in the vault was better than his 14.716 score in the Tokyo Olympics

Those scores were better than the 14.933 and 14.783 that Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat and South Korea’s Shih Jean-hwan booked in ruling the men’s Olympic floor exercise and vault events, respectively, at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in the Japanese capital.

Carrion said that Yulo, who has been a protégé of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines, the sport’s national governing body, since he was 8 years old, would be focusing on doing well on the floor exercise, vault and parallel bars in the qualifying stage.

Yulo, who won 2 gold and 5 silver medals in his debut in the 2019 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila, acknowledged this in the interview, saying: “My specialties are the floor and fault. I’m getting good at the parallel bars, but I think it’s not enough if you compare me to the (other) world-class gymnast.

“But I believe in myself that I can do that some day.”

The top 24 finishers in the men’s all-around qualifiers enter the all-around finals on Friday while the top 8 gymnasts in each of the apparatus — floor exercise, vault, rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar and pommel horse — will advance to the finals of the events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. 

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