By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Carlos Yulo and EJ Obiena showed how world-class athletes can adapt to challenging situations en route to dominating their respective events in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games here.
Yulo, a two-time world champion gymnast, had to make up for his short preparation while Tokyo Olympian Obiena bucked the wet and rainy conditions in delivering the gold medals for Team Philippines in artistic gymnastics and pole vault, respectively.
The 23-year-old Yulo wowed the crowd at the National Olympic Stadium with his performances in six apparatus to rule the men’s individual all-around for the third straight edition, almost at the same time Obiena eclipsed his SEAG mark by clearing 5.65 meters.
Yulo said he only had two weeks to prepare for all the routines he would perform. He was also grateful he was able to adjust to the hot weather conditions in this capital city as he was coming from Japan, where he is based.
“Nakumpleto ko naman yung mga gagawin ko kahit maiksi lang yung preparation kaya okay na rin,” said Yulo, who also anchored the crew to a silver medal in the men’s team event.
“Saka mabuti na rin na nakauwi kahit madali sa Manila bago pumunta dito kasi yung weather sa Japan, malamig. Kaya nakatulong din nang malaki,” he added.
Obiena, meanwhile, said it wasn’t the first time he competed under such rainy conditions but it always poses a challenge.
“We don’t like it (rain) but it happens, that’s fine. But this is tough,” said Obiena.
Obiena posted his SEAG mark under light rain showers at the Morodok Techo National Stadium, but prior to that, he had to clear the lower heights under heavy downpour before competitions were halted for an hour.
“I knew it was gonna rain. I was hoping it doesn’t, but we prepared for it,” he said.
While it was a successful SEAG campaign for Obiena, Yulo still has two events left as he guns for gold medals in the rings and parallel bars at press time.
He was initially lined up for horizontal bar until changes were made after the qualifications.