Carlos Yulo seeking to overcome self doubt after seesaw world championships campaign

Delfin Dioquino

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Carlos Yulo seeking to overcome self doubt after seesaw world championships campaign

GYMNASTICS WONDER. Carlos Yulo is all smiles as he adds a vault silver to his world championships haul.

Phil Noble/Reuters

Carlos Yulo takes home a vault silver and a parallel bars bronze from the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, but admits his insecurities get the best of him at times

MANILA, Philippines – As great as Carlos Yulo is, he still battles self doubt.

That is something the Filipino knows he needs to overcome as he once again underlined the need to be mentally tougher after wrapping up his campaign in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, England.

Yulo bagged a silver in vault and bronze in parallel bars, but admitted he lost to himself as he suffered a disappointing seventh-place finish in floor exercise, the event where he won his first world title three years ago.

“I get insecure about myself for the things I cannot do that others can,” Yulo said in a mix of Filipino and English in a virtual press conference on Monday, November 7.

“Sometimes, I focus on the things I cannot do that I cannot see my good sides anymore.”

Yulo looked poised to recapture his floor exercise world title after being the only gymnast in this world championships to breach the 15-point mark in the apparatus.

He topped the qualification with 15.266 points and repeated the feat in the all-around finals, scoring 15.166 points.

But the 22-year-old faltered when it counted in the floor exercise finals on Saturday, with a surprising fall early in his routine costing him a podium spot as Yulo tallied 13.3 points to finish second to last out of the eight finalists.

His underwhelming floor exercise showing came a day after Yulo competed in the all-around finals, where he got bunched in the first group with the likes of China’s Zhang Boheng and Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto and Wataru Tanigawa.

The reigning Olympic all-around champion, Hashimoto won gold by dethroning Zhang, who settled for silver, while Tanigawa clinched bronze.

“It was my first time being grouped with the really good ones. That was when I realized I lack a lot of things. Not just in skills, but they’re really different mentally,” said Yulo. “I want to be like them. I look up to those gymnasts.”

Yulo landed at eighth in the all-around finals as his lowly scores of 11.9 in the pommel horse and horizontal bar – his two weakest events – dragged his ranking.

But Yulo still proved his mettle in the other apparatuses as he topped the floor exercise (15.166) and parallel bars (15.166) out of the 24 all-around finalists.

Self acceptance

The former world champion said he has to strike a balance between wanting to improve and acknowledging that he will have his shortcomings.

“Sometimes, I focus so much on the pommel horse and high bar that I lose time to focus on the events I’m good at,” said Yulo.

“I’m still trying to find that balance. It is still hard for me to accept, but step by step, and I say this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I’m finding a way to accept myself.”

With a renewed resolve, Yulo refused to go home empty-handed from Liverpool as he excelled in the vault and parallel bars, the same events where he won medals in the previous world championships in Kitakyushu, Japan.

Although he fell short of his goal of winning a second straight vault gold and replicating his silver finish in parallel bars, Yulo still considers his world championship stint as a step in the right direction given the caliber of his foes.

Yulo lost his vault title by a slim margin to Armenia’s Artur Davtyan, an Olympic bronze medalist in the event.

Over in parallel bars, he ranked behind only China’s Zou Jingyuan and Germany’s Lukas Dauser, who copped gold and silver, respectively, in the Tokyo Olympics last year.

“I was surprised because I’m getting at their level. I also saw my improvements,” Yulo said. “My experiences here in the world championships were good for me. I picked up a lot of lessons.”

As Yulo returns to Japan, the quest to reach the 2024 Paris Olympics will soon begin as he kicks off his qualification campaign early next year.

Yulo will compete in four World Cups in Azerbaijan, Germany, Qatar, and Egypt from February to April. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.