Gymnastics star Carlos Yulo treating SEA Games like it’s the Olympics

HANOI — At podium training for gymnastics at Quan Ngura Sports Palace on Thursday, one would know when it’s Carlos Edriel Yulo’s turn: Everybody grabs a spot and watch him go.

As soon as he mounted the pommel horse, fellow gymnasts from other countries took notice. Then, right after a brief flawless Thomas Flair routine from the 22-year-old Filipino Olympian, they would appreciate with a one-clap gesture.

“It’s the same thing as last time I was also No. 1. But never think that I’m the best, because there are many gymnasts here who are very good,” said Yulo in Filipino on the eve of the team competitions. “I just focus on what I want to perform on competition day.”

The Philippines’ top bet in the sport, who won two Southeast Asian Games golds (floor exercise and all-around) and five silvers in 2019, said he’s treating the biennial meet like it’s the Olympics.

“Every time it’s the Olympics that I think of,” said the two-time world champion. “Because of the experience I had in Tokyo. I may not have won a medal but it made me want to become better. That’s what I learned for that experience.”

Before, Yulo said he would match his effort to the size of the competition. “Now it’s all the same because if I change my mindset, what will happen when it comes to Paris (2024)?,” he said. “My performance won’t be consistent if I treat competitions differently.”

With the Paris Olympics as his next target, Yulo said he will start applying the lesson he learned in Tokyo where he missed the podium even in his pet event floor exercise.

“It will all start with my attitude toward practice,” said Yulo. “That’s where I struggle the most. It’s because I’m still evolving as an athlete. This is not my peak yet. I want to have that attitude not only as an athlete but also as a person.”

Yulo will compete in the team competitions which will also serve as preliminary in individual events. He will compete in pommel horse, rings, vault (where he won the 2021 Worlds), parallel bars, high bar, uneven bars and floor exercise (which he ruled for the 2019 Worlds) all in succession.

Points there will be collated to determine who makes the individual finals in the next three days.

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