Ariel Torres in action during the Men's Individual Kata during the ANOC World Beach Games on Oct. 12 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Ariel Torres used to stand near traffic lights in his hometown of Hialeah, Florida, for hours, hoping to collect enough spare change from stopped motorists to help raise enough money for karate competitions.
His next trip will be taken care of: The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Torres officially booked his place in his sport’s Olympic debut by winning the Karate 2021 Qualification Tournament Saturday in Paris, France. The tournament is the last chance for karateka to earn Olympic berths. Torres qualified for the final round-robin, needing to finish in the top three of four athletes to secure his Olympic place, and finished on top of the podium.
Torres, 23, began practicing karate at the age of 6 is now the No. 10 athlete in the world in kata, one of two Olympic disciplines of karate along with kumite. Torres formerly competed in both, but after a foot injury in 2015 kept him out of the fighting-centric kumite, he began to focus on the discipline also known as “forms.” Athletes are judged on their ability to perform offensive and defensive movements.
Torres is a two-time USA Karate national champion and a four-time member of the senior team. He’s taken to the international stage in recent years, winning the silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games and also gold at the 2019 Pan American Championships. Earlier this year, Torres won his first Karate 1-Premier League medal, taking bronze in Istanbul, giving him a boost going into Paris to secure Team USA’s only Olympic spot in male kata.