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Yulo shoots for gold



Carlos Yulo seeks to defend his title when he sees action in the floor exercise finals of the Yulo shoots for goldSaturday at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in Kitakyushu, Japan.

Action starts at 3:10 p.m. (Manila time) with Yulo looking to prove himself against the world’s best athletes in this event that he ruled in 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.

He will test his mettle against a star-studded field bannered by fellow Tokyo Olympian Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan, Daiki Kashimoto and Kazuki Minami of Japan and European champion Emil Saravuo of Finland, guaranteeing a slam-bang battle of skills, composure and grace under pressure.

Rounding up the finals cast are Nicola Bartolini of Italy, Ryu Sung Hyun of Korea, Kazuma Kaya of Japan and Hayden Skinner of Britain.

Gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion brims with confidence over Yulo’s chances of retaining his crown, especially after topping the preliminaries with an impressive score of 15.166.

Carrion said winning the gold would be a perfect redemption for Yulo, who had a botched stint in the Summer Games last August after logging an underwhelming 13.566 to fall to 44th place in his favorite event.

“We are very, very hopeful. As long as he sticks on the floor, he’s gonna get the medal,” Carrion told the Daily Tribune in a message from Japan.

“He will be facing talented athletes too, but his skill and level of difficulty is higher.”

After a forgettable Olympic stint, Yulo did not waste any time and quickly got back to training with his Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya at the Teikyo University in Tokyo.

His decision paid off as he bagged a gold and a bronze medal in the floor exercise and vault events of the 2021 All-Japan Senior and Masters Gymnastics Championships in Yamagata last month.

Yulo continued his blazing form in Kitakyushu, where he also topped the parallel bars preliminaries with a score of 15.566 and placed third in the vault qualifiers at 14.808.

With her ward in perfect condition, Carrion is upbeat that Yulo could even surpass his previous performances and completely redeem himself from that Olympic flop.

“Everybody who saw Caloy there was impressed. They told me that we have a great athlete in him,” Carrion said, adding that Yulo is set to see action in the finals of parallel bars and vault on Sunday.

“As long as he doesn’t skip (their plan), for sure we’ll win the medal.