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Junior World Team Arrived in Bangkok on Monday

Oct. 20, 2008, 6:46 p.m. (ET)

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Thirteen members of Team USA athletes arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday each with the goal of becoming just the third U.S. athlete ever to win a Junior World title. 

More than 500 athletes from 87 nations are scheduled to compete in an event that has come to be a sneak preview of who to watch during the next Olympics.  In fact, five gold medalists from the past two Junior World Championships went on to win medals at the Beijing Olympic Games, including Ronda Rousey (Santa Monica, Calif. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) who won her Junior World title as a 63kg player in 2004 and followed with a bronze medal in Beijing.

Competition begins daily at 10 a.m. at the Rajamangala Indoor Stadium with the schedule of weight divisions as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 23
Women's 48kg and 52kg
Men's +100kg
 
Friday, Oct. 24
Women's 57kg and 63kg
Men's 90kg and 100kg 

Saturday, Oct. 25
Women's 70kg and 78kg
Men's 73kg and 81kg

Sunday, Oct. 26
Women's +78kg
Men's 60kg and 66kg

Among the members of Team USA are three veterans of the 2006 Junior World Team.

Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) qualified for her first Junior World Team as a 14-year-old 52kg player in 2004, but withdrew with an injury.  Since competing again in 2006 at 70kg, 18-year-old Harrison is now the reigning Senior National and U.S. Open Champion in the 78kg division. 

Although she won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo in June, Harrison was not able to compete in Beijing as Team USA had fallen one slot short of qualifying the division and the Junior Worlds will be one of Harrison's first major tournament outside of North American in her new weight division.

Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) also has moved up a weight division since the 2006 Junior Worlds which was his last event as a 60kg player.  A Senior Pan American medalist at 60kg, Liggett soon found success in the 66kg weight division where he won a bronze medal at the 2007 U.S. Open just a year after moving up.  Now 19-years-old, Liggett was an alternate to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and could be a contender for a trip to the podium in Bangkok.

Liggett's NYAC and JMJC teammate Nick Delpopolo (Glenville, N.Y.) also is competing at his second Junior World Championships.  In 2006, Delpopolo had just returned to elite judo after being sidelined with injuries.  Two years later, however, Delpopolo has competed internationally at both the junior and senior levels, winning a silver medal at the 2007 Senior National Championships in the 73kg division. 

Delpopolo's younger sister, 15-year-old Helen Delpopolo (Westfield, N.J. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) will be competing at the Junior Worlds as well, fighting in the 70kg division where she is ranked as one of the top four senior players in the United States.

A former 55kg player, Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) broke through in the junior ranks when he won the Portugal Junior World Cup in 2007 at 60kg and has been a player to watch on both the junior and senior scenes ever since, winning bronze medals at the 2007 and 2008 Senior National Championships and taking his first B-Level senior medal in September when he placed third at the U.S. Open.

Kyle Vashkulat (Scotia, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) moved up from 90kg to 100kg at the 2007 Senior Nationals and won a bronze medal in his first major tournament at the heavier weight where he has yet to lose a domestic match to a junior competitor. 

Hana Carmichael (Wellington, Fla. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / Budokan Judo) is making her debut on a U.S. junior team, but has progressed rapidly during the past year, winning medals and the Senior Nationals and advancing to her first U.S. Open final in the 57kg division.

Also competing on her first U.S. Team, Paola Genao Butler (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) not only fought for her first Senior National medal earlier this year, but advanced to the finals where she won a silver medal at 63kg.

After placing fifth at the 2007 Rendez-Vous Canada, Angela Creutzberger (Burnt Hills, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) began a climb to the top of the junior roster in the 48kg division that included a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals last Spring and culminated with her win at the Junior World Trials in September. 

Fifteen-year-old Chrissy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) also was one of several young players to win her first Senior National medal earlier this year.  After winning bronze in the 52kg division, the former Pan American Infantile Championships medalist also was one of the youngest competitors at the Olympic Trials.

Danny Satinsky (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Cohen's Judo) may not have been the top 81kg player in the division going into the junior season this year, but wins over the #1 and #2 players at the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships in July made him a player to watch at the Junior World Trials where he was one of only two players to win Trials berths who weren't the top seed going into the event.

Steve Fayzakov (Fresh Meadows, N.Y. / NYAC / Spartak Sports Club) is competing on his second junior international team this year after placing second in the 90kg division at the Pan American Junior Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Earlier this fall Fayzakov advanced to the medal rounds of the U.S. Open for the first time where he placed fifth.

Seventeen-year-old Colin Robinson (Atlanta, Ga. / Waka Mu Sha) is the youngest team member on the men's side, but the +100kg player has competed internationally before, winning the Pan Am Juvenile Championships as a 90kg player in 2007.

The team is being coached by 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Coach Jason Morris (Glenville, N.Y.)

"This is a team of very talented young players and we as a staff are all very excited about our chances at Junior Worlds this week," Morris said.

A complete athlete roster is as follows:

Women

48kg
Angela Creutzberger (Burnt Hills, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
 
52kg    
Chrissy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri)
 
57kg    
Hana Carmichael (Wellington, Fla. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / Budokan Judo)
 
63kg

Paola Genao Butler (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 

70kg
Helen Delpopolo (Westfield, N.J. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 

78kg
Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
 
Men

60kg
Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
 
66kg
Jeremy Liggett (Scotia, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)

73kg
Nick Delpopolo (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
 

81kg              
Danny Satinsky (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Cohen's Judo)

90kg              
Steve Fayzakov (Fresh Meadows, N.Y. / NYAC / Spartak Sports Club)
 
100kg
Kyle Vashkulat (Scotia, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
 
+100kg
Colin Robinson (Atlanta, Ga. / Waka Mu Sha)

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