By Paul Osborne

11 top Australian judo juniors are given the opportunity to compete in international competitons under AJCGS programmeOctober 16 - A group of Australian judo juniors are to be given important international experience and the chance to impress national coaches ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Five of Australia's best male and female competitors will travel to Ljubljana in Slovenia to compete in the World Junior Championships from October 23 until 27.

They will be joined by a further six juniors to experience senior level competition at the Oceanic Open in Samoa from November 14 until 19.

The move comes after the announcement of funding support from the Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) under its Australian Junior Commonwealth Games Squad (AJCGS) programme.

"If Australia is to continue to enjoy success in the future beyond the [Glasgow] 2014 Commonwealth Games it is important that we support the next crop of juniors hoping to break through," said Perry Crosswhite, chief executive of the ACGA.

"That is why the AJCGS programme is playing such an important role in helping nurture the next generation of Australia's sporting stars.

"Whether competing against the world's best juniors, or having an opportunity to take a step up and compete at senior level, these events will be great experience in the development of these emerging athletes,"

Jake Bensted one of Australias top junior judo athletes will be hoping to catch the eye of the national coaches as he travels to Slovenia and Samoa under the AJCGS programmeJake Bensted, one of Australia's top junior Judo athletes, will be hoping to catch the eye of the national coaches as he travels to Slovenia and Samoa under the AJCGS programme

Since the AJCGS programme was launched in 1996, the Australian Commonwealth Games Association has provided more than $8 million (£5 million/€6 million) to assist the country's talented young athletes from Commonwealth Games sports gain valuable international competition experience.

Australia will be hoping the programme will help them build on their success from the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games which saw them come third on the judo medal table, collecting two gold medals and three bronze.

Judo will be making a return to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 having been left out of the Games in Melbourne and New Delhi in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

"With judo coming back into the Games programme after a 12 year absence, Glasgow will be the first chance any of our current squad members will have had to compete in a Commonwealth Games," said Peter Herrmann, national elite coaching director for the Judo Federation of Australia.

"The potential of representing Australia at a Commonwealth Games is a huge incentive for any young athlete on the verge of breaking through at senior level.

"That is why this additional ACGA-funded international competition experience is so valuable, both for the athletes looking to get noticed and for the coaches assessing them."

The ACGA is also currently investing $8 million (£5 million/€6 million) under its "Go Glasgow" programme, which looks to help 18 sports, including judo, to prepare for Glasgow 2014. 

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