Cook's Olympic dream could be back on after BOA seek "clarification" over Olympic omission
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
May 29 - European taekwondo champion Aaron Cook has been thrown a lifeline for London 2012 after the British Olympic Association (BOA) today demanded to know why he had been left out of the team even though he is due to soon to be ranked world number one later this week.
The BOA have said that they had sought "further clarification" from British Taekwondo over the exclusion of the 21-year-old from Dorchester.
Cook has appealed to the BOA after being left out of the four-strong team chosen by British Taekwondo despite retaining his European under-80 kgs title in Manchester earlier this month.
British Taekwondo's performance director Gary Hall had backed Cook's inclusion.
But Cook, who last year quit British Taekwondo's world class performance programme to train on his own, was left out in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, who would have to drop down a weight division to compete at the Olympics.
The omission of Cook (pictured) is even stranger as he is set to be ranked world number one later this week, after he beat Azerbaijan's Ramin Azizov in the final of the European Championships.
The BOA's Olympic qualification standards panel (OQS) - which consists of chief executive and Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt, deputy Chefs de Mission Sir Clive Woodward and Mark England and Sarah Winckless, chairman of the BOA Athletes' Commission - have requested for more details regarding selection policy.
"The OQS Panel also seeks to ensure that the process of selecting athletes for Team GB is conducted in a manner that is fair and in accordance with the approved selection procedures," said the BOA in a statement.
"With respect to the nomination in the Men's Under-80kg weight category, the OQS Panel is requesting a meeting at the earliest possible opportunity with the British Taekwondo Selection Committee to seek further information and clarification about: the process by which the athletes were evaluated by the British Taekwondo Selection Committee; the head-kick scoring regulations in international taekwondo and their bearing on selection; the OQS Panel will also be seeking information from the World Taekwondo Federation on this point.
"Once the OQS Panel has had an opportunity to ask further questions of and receive additional information from the British Taekwondo Selection Committee, it will be in a position to act upon the nomination."
Cook has drawn encouragement from the BOA's stance.
He said on Twitter: "Encouraging news reports. Thank you to the BOA, I await further news. The dream is still alive..."
Cook claims his decision to opt out of British Taekwondo's own programme and go it alone had been held against him in the final selection.
British Taekwondo defended their selection policy.
"We will continue to work with the BOA to finalise the fourth selection place, in the interests of the athletes concerned and the wider team," they said in a statement.
"Competition for places has never been as strong as it is now within our sport and the challenges around selection reflect this.
"Our performances on the international stage have naturally alerted key overseas competitors and it has always been our policy not to distribute sensitive documentation beyond those for whom it is intended.
"This is no different with our Selection Policy and this document has long been available to every athlete that has registered an interest in being considered for Olympic selection.
"It has also been reviewed by both UK Sport and the BOA.
"We maintain that the overriding aim of the selection panel has been to select athletes who provide the Great Britain Taekwondo team the optimal chance of winning the best set of medals at the Games this summer."
May 2012: Cook retains European taekwondo crown with dramatic final-second victory over world number one
March 2012: Cook and Gayle warm up for European Taekwondo Championships with golds at Dutch Open
June 2011: Three departures confirmed from Taekwondo World Class Performance programme
August 2008: Judging rows flare up again as British and Irish claim Chinese bias
May 2008: Historic victory for British taekwondo