CARLOS Edriel Yulo fell short of his own expectations Friday (early Saturday morning in Manila), scoring 82.098 points to finish 8th overall in the men’s all-around final of the 51st Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
After an auspicious start in taking the opening lead by topping his forte, the floor exercise, in the first rotation with 15.266 points, Yulo had a rollercoaster performance the rest of the way, dragged down by the usual culprits – the pommel horse and horizontal bar, where he both scored lows of 11.90 points each.
The pint-sized Pinoy athlete looked to have overcome his lapses in the pommel horse in the qualifiers but grazed the apparatus with his legs near the end of his routine to suffer a huge deduction and score just slightly higher than the 11.766 he had in the preliminaries.
This was why Yulo nosedived in the standings after that and was in 13th overall, counting the rings, where he scored 13.800 points, with 40.866 points at the halfway mark of the grueling event.
He seemed poised to regain lost ground with the vault kicking off his last three events, but the reigning world vault champion struggled to remain on his feet following a breath-taking acrobatic aerial routine that netted him 14.166 points, way below his 14.766 tally in the qualifiers.
Yulo regained his bearings for a near-flawless stint in his second-to-the-last apparatus, the parallel bars, for a high score of 15.166 points, before winding up his performance with a whimper with another lackluster show on the horizontal bar.
Although the he failed to meet his goal of a top 6 finish in the event, the back-to-back Southeast Asian Games all-around champion still improved on his 10th place overall finish the last time he saw action in the six-apparatus competition in the 2019 edition held in Stuttgart, Germany.
Tokyo Olympic Games men’s all-around gold medalist Daiki Hashimoto of Japan won a riveting down-the-wire duel with top rival Zhang Boheng, dethroning the Chinese defending champion with a score of 87.198 points to the latter’s 86.765.
It was a reversal of fortunes for the two protagonists after Zhang nipped Hashimoto in the world meet held in the Japanese seaport city of Kitakyushu for the gold held just after a few months after the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Japanese veteran Wataru Tanigawa claimed the bronze medal with 85.231 points in the global gymnastics showcase that drew more than 400 athletes from 72 countries organized by the International Gymnastics Federation, more known by its French acronym FIG.
In his post-performance interview, Yulo disclosed that he was battling more with himself than his rivals.
“I am speechless after the six events because I am battling with myself. It was really hard,” he rued. “I don’t want to lose myself in the middle of the competition, but I kind of did, and it’s kind of my fault as well. I put more pressure on myself.”
Still, he looked at the bright side, saying: Overall, the experience was really good. I am in the top eight, it’s not bad and is still a big achievement for me.”
Gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion, who is with Yulo in England, quoted International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who watched the competition, as saying that “’finishing eighth overall by your gymnast in the men’s all-around is not that bad.”
But the Tokyo Olympic veteran acknowledged that he needed to be better in the pommel horse and horizontal bar if he wants to emulate his role model, former world and Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan.
“I need to fix my mistakes when I get back home (to Japan). Pommel horse and high bar I really need to fix,” he stressed.
But the tiny Filipino twister will not have time to dwell on what-might-have-been as he goes back into action in less 15 hours in the men’s floor exercise final set at 1:30 p.m. Saturday (9:30 p.m. in Manila) in the hope of redeeming himself in the event he ruled three years ago in Stuttgart, Germany.
Yulo will also defend his vault crown and see action in the parallel bar final at the conclusion of the world championships on Sunday.
FROM THE ARCHIVES