By Gary Anderson

The IJF Junior World Championships are set to get underway in Fort Lauderdale today ©IJFTwo-time tennis Grand Slam winner Illie Nastase was a special guest at the draw for the International Judo Federation (IJF) Junior World Championships which get underway in Fort Lauderdale today.

Romanian Nastase joined IJF President Marius Vizer at the draw in the Broward County Convention Center on the eve of the Championships which will see the best judoka under the age of 21-years-old battle it out across eight men's and eight women's categories.

Nastase revealed he is a big fan of the sport and welcomed athletes and officials to the Florida city.

"I am very pleased to be here, the event is an opportunity for me to stay in touch with sport and this is something I am grateful for from the IJF," said the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open winner.

"I am developing a good understanding of the sport and I really look forward to seeing some special young athletes this week.

"I wish you all good luck."

As well as the 16 individual competitions, there will also be a team event on the final day of the Championships while prize money of $80,000 (£49,700/€63,000) will divided across individual events with $20,000 (£12,500/€15,700) on offer in the team competition.

The team event made its Summer Youth Olympic Games debut at Nanjing 2014 and has become a core feature of the IJF's annual World Championships competitions.

Speaking at the draw, IJF President Vizer said: "I want to proceed with the mission of the IJF and in particular the team event is something we have great confidence in and continue to work to develop.

"I hope for a successful competition and I wish you all a lot of success.

"I hope you enjoy the competition and America."

Tennis legend Illie Nastase revealed he is a big judo fan as he attended the draw for the IJF Junior World Championships in Florida ©IJFTennis legend Illie Nastase revealed he is a big judo fan as he attended the draw for the IJF Junior World Championships in Florida ©IJF

Following the introduction of the junior world ranking list last year, competitors are seeded for the first time at these Championships.

Japan's Ami Kondo is the top-rated athlete in the women's under 48 kilogram and is arguably the biggest name in Fort Lauderdale.

The 19-year-old is the overwhelming favourite after claiming senior World Championship gold in Chelyabinsk, Russia, back in August.

Junior European champion Borislava Damyanova of Bulgaria is the top seed in the women's under 44kg and her biggest test could come from junior Pan American champion Larissa Farias of Brazil.

Another reigning junior European champion Odette Giuffrida of Italy will be a strong contender in the under 52kg class, where the senior World Championship bronze medallist and European Championship silver medallist will also fancy her chances of success.

Hungary's Szabina Gercsak is the stand-out name in the under 63kg as she currently holds Summer Youth Olympic Games gold as well as the world cadet and junior European titles.

Croatia looks strong in the under 70kg and under 78kg divisions with reigning junior world champion Barbara Matic headlining the former and Nanjing 2014 champion Brigita Matic the one to best in the 78kg class.

Reigning Cadet world champion Gusmary Garcia Savigne of Cuba and Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist Sarah Asahina of Japan are expected to feature in the medal shake-up in the over 78kg division.

In the men's competition, there is a potential clash of brothers in the under 81kg as junior European champion Nemanja Majdov will be competing alongside brother Stefan, a junior European bronze medallist.

Japan's senior world champion Ami Kondo will be looking to end the year by bagging the junior world title in Fort Lauderdale ©AFP/Getty ImagesJapan's senior world champion Ami Kondo will be looking to end the year by bagging the junior world title in Fort Lauderdale ©AFP/Getty Images

Elsewhere, junior Pan American champion Rafael Orbe Concepcion of Dominican Republic is the top seed in the under 55kg category, while junior Pan American silver medallist Julian Sancho of Costa Rica heads the list in the under 66kg class.

After an impressive seventh place finish at the senior World Championships in Chelyabinsk, South Korea's Choi In Hyuk is expected to go far in the under 60kg division.

Another youngsters who has impressed in the senior ranks, Hungary's Krisztian Toth, is seen as the leading contender in the under 90kg category.

Junior Pan American champion Lincoln Neves of Brazil and Azerbaijan's Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Huseyn Rahimli are the strongest contenders in the under 73kg division.

Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian athletes are the top seeds in the heaviest categories - the under 100kg and over 100kg.

Russia's junior European champion Niyaz Ilyasov will face stiff opposition from junior Pan American Championship winner Gabriel Souza of Brazil in the under 100kg division.

Iakiv Khammo of Ukraine leads the over 100kg ratings where Asian Games silver medallist Duurenbayar Ulziibayar is expected to challenge strongly.

The Championships in Fort Lauderdale run from today until Sunday (October 26).

Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.

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