Aaron Cook, the taekwondo world number one whose omission from the British team by his sport’s governing body has sparked a huge selection row, could be reinstated after a key meeting of the British Olympic Association on Tuesday.
The, BOA chief executive, Andy Hunt said it was “virtually unprecedented” that it would overrule the selection of British Taekwondo, but the four-strong panel is believed to be seriously considering such a course of action. Cook had been expected to secure the under-80kg nomination in a four-strong team, having retained his European title in Manchester earlier this month. But despite the backing from performance director Gary Hall, he was overlooked in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, who is ranked 10th and would have to drop down a weight division for the Olympics.
The 21-year-old last year quit the British Taekwondo’s World Class Performance Programme to train on his own, leading to suspicions that was a factor in the decision. Cook said on Monday he found it “incredible” that Muhammad had been chosen over him.
“I left British Taekwondo’s World Class Performance Programme because I felt that their methods were wrong for me. I was not achieving my potential,” he said.
“Twelve months after backing myself and creating my team as a result of the financial backing of my personal sponsors, the results show that I was 100% right,” said Cook, who will return to the top of the world rankings to be announced on Friday.
“This is my whole life. I will continue to train for the London Olympics until the BOA announce the selected athletes in Taekwondo for Team GB.”
In a separate statement, Cook’s agent also urged UK Sport – the funding agency for Olympic sport that has invested £4.8m over four years in a sport widely considered a good bet for medal success in London – to “consider the whole process given the role of the British taxpayer in the funding of taekwondo in this country”.
If the BOA rules against the governing body, the decision will be open to appeal. Hunt said: “It is such an amazing and extraordinary thing to compete for your Olympic team at your home Games — it can be a life-changer. As an organisation, we take that responsibility massively seriously because it affects people’s livelihoods and careers.”
Source: The Guardian