Kladno will host the Junior World Championships from tomorrow ©UIPM

Italy, who won six medals, including three golds, at last year's Modern Pentathlon Junior World Championships, are looking to match or improve their performance in the 2018 running of the event which gets underway in Kladno, in the Czech Republic, tomorrow.

Three of Italy's medallists from 2017 - Aurora Tognetti, Elena Micheli and Matteo Cicinelli - are back in search of further success in this International Modern Pentathlon Union (UPM) event.

With more than 170 athletes representing 29 nations, it promises to be another thrilling competition.

In the women's individual event, two-time champion Kim Sunwoo of South Korea is no longer eligible so 2017 silver medallist Tognetti and bronze medallist Adelina Ibatullina of Russia will fancy their chances.

But the favourite for gold looks like Ilke Ozyuksel of Turkey, the number one junior athlete who is currently ranked 12th on the senior women's list.

Turkey's Ilke Ozyuksel is favourite to win the women's event at the UIPM Junior World Championships that get underway in the Czech Republic tomorrow ©UIPM
Turkey's Ilke Ozyuksel is favourite to win the women's event at the UIPM Junior World Championships that get underway in the Czech Republic tomorrow ©UIPM

Rio 2016 Olympian Ozyuksel, a European junior champion and a World Cup medallist in 2018, has a stunning laser-run and will be a threat to anyone who holds a slender lead over her at that stage of the competition.

Ibatullina is ranked second on the junior list, with compatriot Kseniia Fraltsova one place behind, while Tognetti and Micheli are ranked fifth and sixth respectively.

There will be huge local interest in the men's individual category, with second-ranked Marek Grycz of the Czech Republic aiming to go one better than his silver medal from 2017.

Reigning champion Daniele Colasanti of Italy will not be in Kladno to defend his title but last year's bronze medallist Cicinelli, currently ranked 10th, may be among the contenders.

Jean-Baptiste Mourcia of France, aiming to add to the mixed relay bronze he won in 2017 with Lisa Riff, also returns.

Another male athlete to watch out for is Balasz Szep of Hungary, who won bronze at the World Cup in Los Angeles in April.

Hungary have sent 13 athletes and there will also be strong challenges from Egypt, China, Japan, Germany and Great Britain, while Argentina will be represented by talented teenagers Martina Armanazqui and Franco Serrano, who recently became the first athletes formally selected for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

"I hope everyone will enjoy an exciting competition in this beautiful Bohemian city," UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said.

"There is a long tradition in the Czech Republic of UIPM competitions being organised professionally and always with wonderful hospitality."

The event begins tomorrow with the women's relay, followed by the men's relay on August 1.

Individual qualifying then takes place before the women's individual final on August 4 and the men's individual final on August 5, with the mixed relay closing the event on August 6.