Caloy Yulo looks to surprise in all-around final at gymnastics world championships

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Nov 04 2022 11:00 AM

Yulo must 'remain steady' in pommel horse and horizontal bar to better his medal chances Friday, says Philippines gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion. AFP/file
Yulo must "remain steady" in pommel horse and horizontal bar to better his medal chances Friday, says Philippines gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion. AFP/file

Carlos Edriel Yulo once shared the spotlight three years ago with Japanese gymnastics legend Kohei Uchimura when they won the gold medal in the floor exercise event of the All-Japan Senior Championships with identical scores 14.80 points each.

Yulo has publicly acknowledged that Uchimura, a six-time world and two-time Olympic men’s all-around champion, as his role model since he began actively competing in the dynamic and demanding sport.

Now, the pint-sized Filipino phenom has a huge chance of literally following in the Japanese star’s footsteps when he swings into action Friday (early Saturday morning in Manila) in the men’s all-around final of the 51st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Liverpool, England.

By coincidence, Uchimura bagged his first world men’s all-around gold at the age of 20 in the 2009 edition staged in London, just 341 kilometers southwest of the home of the renowned British band the Beatles. 

With his strong third-place finish in the all-around qualifiers last Monday, Yulo, 22 — whose earlier goal was just be in the top 6 of the taxing event — will be a top contender for the gold at the M&S Bank Arena in the event that starts at 6 p.m. (2 a.m. Saturday in Manila).

He will be up against Japanese Wataru Tanigawa and Daiki Hashimoto, the Tokyo Olympic men’s all-around gold medalist, and Chinese defending champion Zhang Boheng, who paced his squad to its record-setting 13th gold in the team event last Wednesday night (early Thursday morning in Manila).

Zhang was stellar with a sizzling score of 86.130 points in lifting the Chinese to the gold with tally of 257.858 points, with arch rival Japan (253.395) and host Great Britain (247.229) getting the silver and bronze, respectively, and booking tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

His score was better than the mediocre 83.766 points in placing fifth in the all-around qualifiers and, take note, superior than those of Tanigawa (84.731), Hashimoto (84.665) Yulo (84.664) four days ago in reaching the all-around final.

The Chinese team mainstay showed marked improvement in the rings (14.133) and vault (14.966) compared to his out of 12.033 and 13.600 in the respective events.

“In qualification, we faced some difficulties in adapting to the weather and apparatus. We obviously had mistakes but after two days of reviews, we put out some good performances today,” Zhang said.

Gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion, who is in England, said that Yulo needs to avoid the problems in the pommel horse, where he slipped, and horizontal bar where he had low scores of 11.66 and 13.533, respectively, in the qualifiers.

“If Caloy remains steady in the pommel horse and horizontal bar, he might have a fighting chance at a medal on Friday, which is what we are aiming for,” said Carrion.

She implored the soft-spoken athlete to continue pray before competing every time because “I told him (Yulo) that we are all a team, and that includes God.”

The prayers were apparently answered since the 2019 world floor exercise champion will begin his campaign Friday with his pet event in the first rotation, with the pommel horse, rings, vault parallel vars and horizontal following, respectively, in that order 

In the two-day apparatus finals to conclude the world gymfest, Yulo will seek to regain the floor exercise gold on Saturday and will defend his vault championship the next day plus competing in the parallel bars. 

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