Gymnastics: Redemption still not complete for Yulo as he eyes Paris Olympics

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2021 06:49 PM

Carlos Yulo celebrates on the podium after the men's parallel bar final. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters
Carlos Yulo celebrates on the podium after the men's parallel bar final. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

MANILA, Philippines -- An impressive performance in the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships is just the start for Filipino gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, who continues to seek redemption after the disappointment of the Tokyo Olympics.

Tipped to win not one but multiple medals in the Summer Games, Yulo failed to reach the podium in his pet event, the floor exercise, wherein he became world champion in 2019. He made the finals of the vault but just missed out on the podium, finishing fourth.

Since then, he and his Japanese coach, Munehiro Kugimiya, have rallied behind the mantra of "Revenge the Tokyo," with Yulo using the disappointment of his maiden Olympics stint as his primary motivation.

"Hindi ko pa din naman nakakalimutan 'yung Olympics. Palagi ko po siyang nire-remind sa sarili ko na, 'paano kapag Olympics bukas?' Hindi po ako mapanatag na maging ganoon 'yung performance ko, lalo na sa araw-araw po na training," Yulo told reporters in a press conference, Tuesday.

"Palagi ko pong nire-remind 'yung sarili ko, pagkagising na pagkagising pa lang po talaga. Paano po 'pag Olympics? Anong gagawin ko?" he added. "Hindi ko po maalis sa sarili ko eh, grabe, natalo po ako sa sarili ko doon... Ayaw ko ng ganoong pagkakamali."

His redemption started at the Kitakyushu City General Gymnasium in Kitakyushu, where Yulo won a gold in the vault and a silver in the parallel bars. He was disappointed to have missed out on another medal in the floor exercise, as a 0.300 penalty prevented him from defending his world title.

"Siyempre naman po, sobrang nakakapanghinayang po 'yun," said Yulo, who topped the qualifying in the parallel bars and floor exercise.

"But 'yun nga po, wala na din naman po akong magagawa. May bukas pa ako, sayang naman kung malulugmok ako ngayon, baka mas lalong hindi maganda 'yung maging performance ko," he also said. "Tinanggap ko po siya, and ganoon talaga, hindi palaging panalo eh."

He bounced back the next day with two superb performances in the vault and parallel bar, but Yulo stressed that his triumphs in Kitakyushu still doesn't quite make up for the Olympics.

Philippine's Carlos Yulo in action during the men's Floor Final. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters
Philippine's Carlos Yulo in action during the men's Floor Final. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

"Nanalo po ako right now, pero hindi po ako nasa-satisfy doon, kasi hindi pa naman po completely nakapag-revenge ako sa nangyari po this year sa akin," said the 21-year-old Yulo. 

"'Yung nagpu-push po talaga sa akin araw-araw, 'yung makabawi po sa 2024," he stressed.

There, Yulo wants to achieve something that he saw his fellow Filipino athletes do in Tokyo -- reach the top of the Olympic podium. The gymnast had seen how weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history for the Philippines when she won the country's first ever Olympic gold medal, after nearly a century of participation in the Summer Games.

It was a moment that inspired all Filipino athletes, and Yulo was no exception.

"Gold po talaga," Yulo said when asked of his goal for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. "Noong nakita ko po 'yung kay Ate Hidilyn, nakaka-inspire po talaga. Gusto ko din noon, 'yung ganoong feeling po."

"Gusto ko po din noon, nakakainggit," he added.

Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam would also win two silver medals, and Eumir Marcial grabbed a bronze as the Philippine team went home with four medals for its best ever performance in the Olympic Games. 

Yulo said the plan is for him to compete in all six apparatus in the Paris Games, and reach the final in the all-around. 

"Ngayon po, mas dumami po 'yung chances ko sa mga ibang events. Pag dumating po 'yung Olympics, gusto ko po na ma-make sure na andoon ako sa finals, and makakakuha po ako ng medals," he said.

Up next for Yulo is the All-Japan Championships in December, after which he is expected to return home to the Philippines for the first time in two years. He will then brace for a packed 2022 schedule that includes the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games.

For Yulo, all these competitions will only help him as he keeps his eye on his ultimate goal.

"Wala po kasing masyadong competitions na naganap before mag-Olympics po, kaya isang bagsakan lang po talaga," he said of the build-up to the Tokyo Games. "Kaya ganoon ang nangyari -- hindi na ako nakabawi. Wala na ako masyadong oras para i-fix ang mga pagkakamali ko."

"Pero next year naman, may mga competitions, and excited po ako doon," he said.

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