MANILA, Philippines – Stakes are high for Carlos Yulo as the Filipino gymnastics star braces for another year where he can win more world championship titles and qualify for the Paris Olympics at the same time.
Yulo, who visited the Philippines after claiming a total of three golds, one silver, and two bronzes from the Baku and Doha World Cup Series, is already gearing up for his return to the Olympics via the upcoming events in his jam-packed calendar.
“Katulad lang din ng other competitions ang preparations ko for the Olympics pero mas mahirap lang kasi kailangan ko po ma-reach before the Paris Olympics ang mga sinulat kong target pagkatapos ng Tokyo Olympics,” said Yulo, who graced the inauguration of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Gymnastics Hall on Friday, March 17, for the association’s grassroots program.
(I prepare for the Olympics the same way I prepare for other competitions, but it’s harder because I need to reach the targets I wrote down from the Tokyo Olympics before Paris 2024.)
First, Yulo will need to close out the 2023 FIG Apparatus World Cup Series strong in Cairo, Egypt from April 27 to 30, which will assure him seeded places in the world championships.
So far, Yulo is seeded in the parallel bars after copping a gold and a silver in the World Cup Series. He’s aiming for another major win in the vault to also assure him of a place in the world championships as he copped a World Cup gold and bronze in the event.
According to the two-time world champion, he looks to build a new routine and adjust to it for the floor exercise – his pet event.
The 23-year-old gymnast will then compete in the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on May 5 to 17 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to bolster the overall championship chances of the Philippine team.
Although the Philippine SEA Games delegation will lack the presence of heavyweights like Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and tennis star Alex Eala, Yulo and the national team remain unfazed and focused on their own sport.
“Kung ano pa rin ‘yung goal ko, doon ako naka-focus. Hindi ko kailangan i-raise o ma-motivate pa lalo kasi may kanya-kanya kaming nilalabanan,” said Yulo, who has been crowned the most bemedaled Filipino athlete in the last two stagings of the regional biennial meet.
(I’m still focused on my goal. There’s no need to be even more motivated [or pressured in leading Team Philippines] because we have to compete in our own events.)
After the SEA Games, Yulo is set to defend the trio of Asian championship golds he won in the vault, parallel bars, and floor exercise. The 2023 Asian Artistic Gymnastic Championships will be hosted in Singapore from June 10 to 18 at the OCBC Arena.
Yulo’s campaign will culminate in the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships that will be staged in Antwerp, Belgium from September 30 to October 8.
Not only will the 4-foot-11 dynamo aim to claim another world championship title, since a top spot in an apparatus will also secure him a ticket to the Paris Olympics.
In the world championships, Yulo won a historic gold in the 2019 edition in the men’s floor exercise and copped a gold in the men’s vault event in the 2021 edition Kitakyushu. He’s also the first Filipino gymnast to bag multiple medals in a single competition after he won a parallel bar silver in 2021.
In the 2022 world championships in Liverpool, Yulo failed to bring home a title and settled for a silver in the vault and a bronze in the parallel bars.
Yulo made his Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, where he missed a podium finish after landing fourth place in the men’s vault event. – Rappler.com
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