Cook snubbed again as British Taekwondo stand by decision to pick rival
Wednesday, 06 June 2012
June 6 - Aaron Cook (pictured) has been rejected for a third time by British Taekwondo, whose selection panel have once again preferred Lutalo Muhammad to the world number one for the Olympics.
The five-man panel were asked to think again by the British Olympic Association (BOA) after ignoring Cook, who last month retained his European title in the -80 kilograms category, in favour of Muhammad, who will have to drop down from the -87kg division to fight at London 2012.
But the selectors confirmed their previous decisions, confirming Muhammad, who won the European title in the heavier division but is ranked only 93rd in the world in the lighter category.
It leaves the BOA with a dilemma and they must now decide whether they rubber-stamp Muhammad's selection or continue to dispute it.
The BOA had a legal observer at today's meeting.
Cook, who last year decided to leave British Taekwondo's high performance programme to train on his own, has written to BOA chairman Colin Moynihan, UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl and Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson to protest about his treatment.
The 21-year-old from Dorchester is upset that he was given less than 24 hours to prepare for today's meeting and now may take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, or even the High Court in London.
Emotions are now running high with Muhammad (pictured), a 20-year-old from East London, reportedly receiving hate mail and being the subject of racial abuse on Twitter.
"Aaron is disappointed to hear that Lutalo Muhammad has received hate mail," said Jamie Cunnigham, Cook's agent.
"No real fan of Aaron Cook would send such mail.
"We have always stated that we see Lutalo's involvement in this mess as being a direct result of the decision by the Performance Team of British Taekwondo to recommend Lutalo for selection – wrongly in our opinion.
"Like Aaron, Lutalo is also a victim.
"Lutalo is an athlete of immense promise for the future."
But Cook's team continue to believe that his outstanding record will eventually dictate that he is selected for London 2012.
"We have only ever discussed facts," Cunningham said.
"Lutalo's record as a taekwondo athlete in the Olympic category of -80kg does not compare to Aaron's.
"Lutalo has never won an international event in the Olympic weight category of -80kg.
"There was not one athlete in Lutalo's -87kg victory at the European Championships who will be at the Olympic Games.
"Aaron won the European and Olympic test event in the -80kg Olympic weight category.
"Aaron has beaten seven of the top 15 of his Olympic rivals in their most recent fights and lost to one, whilst Lutalo has not beaten any of them.
"Aaron is ranked Number one in the World and Olympic rankings because he is the best taekwondo athlete at his weight class in the world.
"These are all facts, not opinion."
June 2012: Alan Hubbard - What we have now is unseemly bickering over selection processes that bedevils Team GB at the worst possible time
June 2012: Ignoring world number one is "best for the British Olympic team" claim taekwondo officials
May 2012: BOA refuse to ratify decision to leave Cook out of London 2012 taekwondo squad
May 2012: Cook's Olympic dream could be back on after BOA seek "clarification" over Olympic omission
May 2012: Cook retains European taekwondo crown with dramatic final-second victory over world number one