Cook to switch to Isle of Man following London 2012 snub
Friday, 07 December 2012
December 7 - Former world number one Aaron Cook plans to switch his allegiance to the Isle of Man after being snubbed by GB Taekwondo for London 2012 selection.
The 21-year-old from Dorchester, who was considered to be one of Team GBs most promising prospects for a gold medal at this summer's Games, was controversially denied entry into the squad despite several appeals.
Instead, Lutalo Muhammad, the -87 kg European champion who was ranked world 56th at the time, was selected, even though he had to drop a weight category to compete.
Cook said: "I was world number one - I am never going to work with these people [British Taekwondo] again."
His kick back at Team GB would mean he will be fighting under the Manx flag, which is an associate member of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and therefore is permitted to field its own team at WTF-sanctioned championships.
"I think it's a fantastic opportunity for me and will allow me to still compete for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, which I've wanted - now we can look forward," he said.
Despite exploring possible nationality switches in the United States of America and France, Cook's decision to move to the Isle of Man means he can remain fighting at the highest level without turning his back on Great Britain permanently and will still remain a possible candidate for Team GB at Rio 2016.
"It was very hard for me to go back there after not selecting me," Cook said.
"I felt there was nothing more I could have done to be selected for the Olympics.
"I was reigning European champion, reigning world number one.
"They've made their minds up with what they've done to me and I've made my mind up."
Cook left GB Taekwondo's World Class Performance Programme last year to pursue his own team and train independently ahead of the Games - a crucial factor which fuelled Cook to accuse the snub to be a result of internal politics and the national governing body taking revenge.
But, following the British Olympic Association's (BOA) investigation into the case, the decision was ratified as "justified".
Cook believes the WTF may introduce a system where athletes are selected based on rankings rather that the national body's discretion.
"I think I am quite lucky at the moment, the WTF are looking to organise new competitions, such as a grand prix, which they have said will open up a different path to the Olympics based on world rankings so all I have got to do is go and win the World Championships, the European Championships and make sure I am top ranked in the world and I can get there off my own back which we didn't have in the past," he said.
The switch means that Cook could be facing Muhammad, who went on to become the first British man to win an Olympic taekwondo medal, after beating Arman Yeremyan 9-3 in the bronze medal match, at international championships.
GB Taekwondo claimed that they had tried to build bridges with Cook but been unsuccessful.
"We have made efforts to re-engage with Aaron since the Games and have made it clear that we remain keen to work with him going forward," said a GB Taekwondo spokesperson.
"We have not received official notification of Aaron's future intentions including the potential for him to represent another nation, but it seems apparent that Aaron is keen to pursue other options, away from Great Britain."
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October 2012: Cook considers nationality switch following GB Taekwondo London 2012 snub
June 2012: Lack of finance forces Cook to give up London 2012 taekwondo appeal
June 2012: BOA has "legal and moral obligation" to let Cook take case to CAS, says lawyers
June 2012: Cook's London 2012 hopes dashed again as BOA refuse to consider "new evidence"
June 2012: Selection criteria must become "much clearer" after London 2012, insists BOA chief executive