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Yulo dazzles, nears world glory



PHILIP FONG/agence france-presse CARLOS Yulo delivers dazzling performances to advance to the finals of three apparatuses in the 50th FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Carlos Yulo proved that he is ready to slay the ghost of the Tokyo Olympics following an impressive performance in the 50th FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in Kitakyushu, Japan late Wednesday.

The 21-year-old pride of Manila put on a dazzling display of grace, composure and skills to advance to the final round of the three apparatuses he competed in, including his pet event — the floor exercise — where he is the reigning world champion.

He delivered performances that the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) tagged as ‘jaw-dropping” to top the floor exercise and parallel bars with scores of 15.166 and 15.566, respectively, and send a strong message that he is out to avenge his forgettable performance in the Summer Games.

He also finished third in vault with an average score of 14.808 that put him in a perfect position to claim three gold medals in this prestigious tourney where the world’s best gymnasts, including his Olympic tormentors, are seeing action.

Yulo will defend the floor exercise title that he won in Stuttgart, Germany in 2019 on Saturday before competing in the final of vault and parallel bars on Sunday.

“I wanted to step up my game. I didn’t want to commit the same mistake I had in the Olympics,” Yulo, who has been training in Japan for the past five years, told the FIG website.

The Summer Games had created a deep wound on Yulo’s morale.

Despite coming in as one of the favorites, he bombed out in the final of floor exercise following a couple of costly miscues in his execution, no thanks to a hip injury that bothered him during his buildup.

He logged only 13.566 to finish at a forgettable 44th spot.

Now, he vows to come up with a strong performance to ease the pain of that Olympic loss.

“I feel all of these competitions will be revenge — all of it. This is like the Olympics,” he said.

“Every competition, big or small, I’m going to treat it like it’s the Olympics because my target for 2024 is the all-around and my specialties are floor (exercise) and vault.”

True enough, in a tournament that is as prestigious and as glamorous as the Olympics and with the doubters watching, Yulo was at his very best.

His first performance was in vault in which he delivered a routine with a 5.60-degree of difficulty. He easily overcame it, scoring 14.733 in his first attempt and 14.833 in his second.

Nazar Cherpurnyi of Ukraine and Yang Hakseon of South Korea claimed the top two spots in the vault apparatus with an identical 14.833 while Hidenobu Yonekura of Japan (14.783), Andrey Medvedev of Israel (14.716), Thomas Grasso of Italy (14.599), Courtney Tulloch of Great Britain (14.566) and William Emard of Canada (14.533) round up the qualifiers.

Then, he was a revelation at parallel bars where he registered a 9.166 in the execution of a routine that has 6.400 in degree of difficulty to emerge on top with 15.566, much to the delight of the judges who applauded his crisp and clean performance.

“For the P-bars, I was really shocked,” Yulo said.

“I thought I couldn’t go to the final because I was not really satisfied. From my point of view, it was a little stiff, but I don’t know. I haven’t seen my routine yet.”

Joining Yulo in the parallel bars final are Zhang Boheng (15.300) and Hu Xuwei (15.233) of China, Daiki Hashimoto of Japan (15.200), Yul Moldauer of United States (14.866), Christian Baumann of Switzerland (14.841), Kazuma Kaya of Japan (14.833) and Caio Souza of Brazil (14.800).

Finally, Yulo displayed yet another flawless performance in floor exercise with 8.566 in execution of a routine that has a degree of difficulty of 6.600 to log a total score of 15.166 and join Nicola Bartolini of Italy (14.966), Minami Kazuki of Japan (14.966), Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan (14.941), Daiki Hashimoto of Japan (14.733), Ryu Sanghyun of South Korea (14.600), Hayden Skinner of Great Britain (14.566) and Emil Saravuo of Finland (14.533) in the final round.

“I did great,” he said.

“I did everything, like I practiced a lot before the Olympics and I did what I really wanted.”