Artistic Gymnastics: World champ Yulo huge threat to Sharul’s hopes for gold in Phnom Penh

Muhammad Sharul Aimy Mohd Kamaru Hisam
14/03/2023 11:03 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) -- Muhammad Sharul Aimy is the country’s best bet for gold in men’s artistic gymnastics at the 32nd SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from May 5-17.

But it won’t be easy as he will have to contend with world champion Carlos Yulo of the Philippines.

National coach Ng Shu Liang said that besides Muhammad Sharul, gymnast Luqman Al Hafiz Zulfa is also a potential medallist, although both men can expect a torrid time from Yulo. 

“Our best bet (for gold) is Muhammad Sharul in vault. He was a finalist in the vault discipline at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, a finalist in the FIG Apparatus World Cup in Cottbus, Germany (last month) and a bronze medallist (in pommel horse) at the (Hanoi) SEA Games (last year). So, he is the one with the best chance.

“The other gymnasts, like Luqman, are also good because they can compete in various disciplines… but we have a very strong opponent (Yulo) from the Philippines.

“He (Yulo) won two golds in the FIG Apparatus World Cup in Baku recently… he’s like the world’s top three (artistic) gymnasts,” Ng said when met during chef de mission Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali’s visit to the training venue at the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil, here, today.

Ng is right to be wary of the threat posed by Yulo, who emerged victorious in floor exercise at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Then, in the 2021 edition in Kitakyushu, Japan, the Filipino came out tops in vault. 

In last month’s FIG Apparatus World Cup in Cottbus, Yulo, 23, could only bag a bronze in parallel bars but he bounced back to win three gold medals in Doha, Qatar (floor exercise) and Baku, Azerbaijan (vault and parallel bars) this month.

According to Ng, Yulo, whose pet event is the vault, had also created a sensation by winning five golds at the Hanoi SEA Games in Vietnam last year.

Ng is also baffled by the decision to limit each gymnast to compete in two individual events in Phnom Penh, saying: “I am not sure how this rule can benefit any team because the athletes taking part in a particular event will only be known on the day itself.”

Besides Muhammad Sharul and Luqman, the other national artistic gymnasts bound for Phnom Penh are Ng Chun Chen, Teoh Chuen Feng as well as newcomers Ally Hamuda and Syakir Aiman Subri.

In the Hanoi SEA Games, the men’s team won silver and bronze through Tan Fu Jie dan Muhammad Sharul in pommel horse respectively.