Carlos Yulo

Carlos Yulo stacked against Olympic champions in world title defense

Beatrice Go
Carlos Yulo stacked against Olympic champions in world title defense

BOUNCING BACK. Carlos Yulo hopes to defend his 2019 world championship gold in the men's floor exercise.

Mike Blake/REUTERS

Gymnastics star Carlos Yulo aims for redemption in the world championships just months after falling short of a medal in the Tokyo Olympics

Carlos Yulo is only one of the three 2019 world champions traveling to Kitakyushu, Japan for a title defense, but many up-and-coming gymnasts are looking to claim the gold when the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships rolls off on October 18.

Yulo, the 2019 world champion in the men’s floor exercise, will be up against Olympic gold medalists who made their name in the recent Tokyo Games.

Among these gymnastic stars are Daiki Hashimoto, the 20-year-old Japanese who claimed the Tokyo Olympics men’s all-around title, and South Korea’s Shin Jeahwan, who ruled the men’s vault in the quadrennial meet in his Olympic debut.

Yulo faced the 23-year-old Shin in the medal round of the Tokyo Olympics men’s vault, the lone apparatus where the Filipino reached the finals as he failed to make the qualifying mark in other events, including his pet floor exercise.

Another foe to watch is Japanese gymnastics legend Kohei Uichimura, who is also Yulo’s idol in the sport.

Though he had a dismal Tokyo Olympics performance after failing to qualify in any individual event final, Uichimura holds six consecutive world all-around titles between 2009 and 2015 and is a two-time all-around Olympic champion in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Yulo may also face another veteran competitor in South Korea’s Yang Hakseon, who bagged the 2012 London Olympics men’s vault gold.

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The 21-year-old Filipino narrowly missed an Olympic podium finish in the Tokyo 2020 men’s vault finals when he fell short of a fraction of a point at 0.017 from bronze medalist Artur Davtyan of Armenia and settled for fourth place.

Yulo failed to qualify for his pet event – the men’s floor exercise – in the qualifying event of the Olympics after scoring only 13.566 to finish 44th place overall.

In the 2021 world championships, Yulo will kick off his title defense in his qualifying event scheduled on Wednesday, October 20 at 4:20 pm, Philippine time.

Similar to the format of the Olympics, only the top eight gymnasts will advance to the medal round of each event.

But things are looking up for the 4-foot-11 dynamo as he equaled his world championship men’s floor exercise score of 15.300 to claim the top prize in the event, while also picking up a vault bronze in the 2021 All-Japan Senior & Masters Gymnastics Championship last September. –

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.