Thursday is Going to Be a Big One For San Francisco's Alex Hyatt

By Ernest Pund | Aug. 07, 2013, 10:44 a.m. (ET)

Thursday will be a huge day for 14-year-old San Franciscan Alex Hyatt ... for more than one reason.

“This Thursday means a lot to me,” she said. “Firstly, I represent my country in the most prestigious international judo tournament for my age group, and secondly it is also my Birthday – I turn 15 this 8th of August.”

Hyatt is among the first on the U.S. Team to go for grips and throws at the Cadet World Championships this week at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. Competition starts Thursday with nearly 600 teens registered from more than 80 countries. Hyatt s also among the youngest there, too, potentially facing seasoned international fighters 17 years old in her 44 kg. division.

“Winning a medal would be the best present I could ever ask for,” said Hyatt, “and I intend to go all out – big thanks to all my dedicated coaches from Cahill's Judo Academy (San Bruno, CA) and from San Jose State University Judo. You have all inspired me to be the best that I can be.”

The U.S. team of 19 teens all had to qualify for the Cadet team by taking mostly gold medals at two elite national tournaments earlier this year.

Hosted by USA Judo, this is the most prestigious junior tournament to be held in recent years on home turf. And the home turf doesn’t get much closer than it does for two Miami teens stepping out Thursday, Adonis Diaz and Brian Abreu.

Diaz, 55 kg., of USA Judo Training Site at Ki-Itsu-Sai in Coconut Creek, said today, "I am focused on our tournament, I am relaxing, and I have my head in the game.” But, first things first: the draws for his division are scheduled tomorrow evening, when athletes find out who they face first in the brackets. “I am hoping for the best, but expecting the worst -- draw wise,” Diaz said. “I feel as ready as can be.”

Also from Miami, Brian Abreu, 50 kg., Budokan Judo in Hialeah, said today, “I'm training and I am focused on winning. I picture myself on the mat, winning, and standing on the podium … "I feel like I have to give the best impression possible, and I just can't lose. I am trying to maintain my weight for Thursday.”

Watch the action live by linking at WWW.USJUDO.ORG. See the brackets updated real time at WWW.IPPON.ORG.

Members of the U.S. team have come from all over the nation, Hawaii to New York, California to Florida. Six are from Florida, a rising power of young judo talent. See the US ROSTER.

The best young fighters are drawn to this tournament for the $50,000 in prize money for making the podium and the opportunity to qualify for their national teams to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing next year.

The World Cadet Championships is sanctioned by the International Judo Federation and hosted by USA Judo, the national governing body under the U.S. Olympic Committee that fosters the sport and builds teams for Olympic and other elite competition. The World Cadet Judo Championships is made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.