SAN DIEGO -- A trio of local acrobatic gymnasts have earned a spot on the United States National Team, becoming the first San Diegans to earn that honor.
Audrey Alvarez, Maya Bajdarvanov and Sydney Dorais spend five days a week, four hours at a time mastering acrobatic gymnastics.
"Acro is a sport that includes dance, flexibility and tumbling, strength and a lot of partnership," Dorais said.
The sport merged with USA Gymnastics in 2002 and features a team-like approach. These three have spent the last two years competing as a trio under the guidance of head coach Patricia Nobre, a Portuguese native who once performed acro.
"It's really easy to coach them knowing that they have the eyes on the prize and when I say that, I don't mean prize, I mean eyes on the goal," Nobre said.
The trio accomplished a pretty large and unexpected goal in December when they earned a spot on the USA Gymnastics National Team competing in the 11-16 age group.
"To be honest with you, we weren't expecting to make national team this year, that was a goal for two years (from now)," Dobre said. "We went to Missouri to do our competition to maybe make National Team or not but with the goal of making them comfortable, competing on that level."
"I wasn't expecting it," Bajdarvano said. "So I was super surprised and I'm still kind of getting used to it but it was just really exciting."
The trio are the first team at Flip Force to qualify for a National Team at any level, but they're also the youngest, exceeding even their own expectations.
"We first thought we were going for experience because it's our first year competing at this level but when we found out we were really surprised and happy and excited," Alvarez said.
"It's kind of iconic because it's like wow they're so young and their on this National Team and also, it helps us because since we're all so young, we get to be in this age group longer," Dorais said.
This trio accounts for just one of two representing the United States at the MAIA International Acro Cup in Portugal this March.
They're among 14 U.S. teams competing across five categories hoping to medal.
"It's been really fun," Alvarez said. "I'm really excited for all the fun experiences and just to do our best."
For their head coach, it also means a homecoming and the chance to show the world this San Diego trio can shine.
"At the same time to bring success and bring the girls that are training with me right now to the other side of the world, to my country and also show all the world that we, the USA, are able to do," said Nobre.
The International Acro Cup runs from March 8-10 in Maia, Portugal.