2 South Floridians prepare to compete in Summer Olympics in Tokyo

(WSVN) - Two South Floridians are going for some golden dreams. These two athletes are giving it their all to shine at the Summer Olympics.

Ariel Torres, 23, and 17-year-old Nerea Francis are training for their upcoming dreams — the Olympic games in Tokyo.

Torres will represent the United Stated in karate — one of five new events at the summer games.

He started practicing karate when he was only 6 years old.

“So many things that karate taught me,” he said. “How to respect my parents, how to listen a little bit better, how to pay attention, how to focus in school, which was a big deal. I feel like karate was able to help me out in all those aspects.”

Torres is from Hialeah and is ranked sixth in the world. His discipline is kata which is an individual event judged on attacking moves. There are up to 100 strikes in a three and a half minute round.

Torres has received attention with a national “got milk” campaign.

There will also be eyes on Torres for another reason.

“I carry this flag with a lot of pride,” he said. “Being able to have this chance to be the first Cuban-American to represent karate in the kata discipline in the Olympics is a dream come true. It’s something that I would have never thought possible in a million years, and I’m so glad I’m in this position right now.”

In North Miami, Francis continues to train. Her ticket to the Summer Olympics will be in rhythmic gymnastics.

“It’s been pretty intense,” she said. “I’ve been working a lot. I work like four hours a day for six days a week.”

There are four disciplines, each one minute and 30 seconds on the floor.

Francis uses her strength, flexibility, agility and coordination throughout each routine. She’s judged using the hoop, ball, clubs and a ribbon.

Francis started practicing when she was 5 years old.

“You have to think about how you throw the apparatus, how your body is ready to catch it,” she said. “I have a routine that I’ve done, it’s already been two years, all four of them I’ve done the same ones but we change them up a little bit sometimes.”

Two-time Ukrainian rhythmic gymnastics Olympic bronze medalist Anna Bessonova has coached Francis.

“You understand that it’s your dream. Everybody that goes to the Olympics, everybody’s ready,” Bessonova said. “They’re conditioning. The Olympics can win only the head.”

Both Francis and Torres have pre-Olympic events coming up before heading to Tokyo.

At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, 27-year-old Alejandro Sancho from Miami continues to train. He will represent the United States in Greco-Roman wrestling in his first Olympics.

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