Skipping the 19th Asian Games was not a difficult decision to make for celebrated gymnast Carlos Yulo.
After all, he is laser-focused on booking a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics at stake in the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
Yulo opted not to see action in the Asiad in Hangzhou, China running from 23 September to 8 October to make sure he would be at his peak for the more important world championships set 30 September.
In fact, no less than Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino tried to convince the 23-year-old gymnast to help the Philippines jack up its gold medal tally in the Asian Games.
Yulo and the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines politely declined.
Instead, 2023 Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Juancho Miguel Besana and John Ivan Cruz will lead the Philippine men’s artistic gymnastics team in China.
“The choice was not confusing because it’s important for me to play in the Olympics. I wanted to play in the Asian Games but the schedules are so close to each other that I might not have enough for the next competition, the world championships,” Yulo said.
“The decision was easy because my main goal has always been the Olympics.”
Yulo must finish in the top eight of the individual all-around to secure a spot in the Summer Games.
The pride of Leveriza, Manila is on a road to redemption after a horrible showing in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Unlike in previous world championships, Yulo won’t be alone this time as Besana will fly straight to Belgium after the Asiad to compete in the men’s vault via a quota place.
Filipino-American gymnasts Aleah Finnegan and Kylee Kvamme will also be competing in the biggest artistic gymnastics competition in the world after an impressive showing at the 10th Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Singapore last June.
While Yulo is expected to perform well in the world championships, GAP president Cynthia Carrion said she will have to see for herself how far the three other gymnasts will go in the tournament.
“Miguel will be there to show he is there to compete. I have no aspirations for him to win but if he does, I will be overjoyed. I have no idea how far Aleah and Kylee’s training is so I will only know it when I go to Belgium,” Carrion said.