Friday June 8, 2012
European Taekwondo champion Aaron Cook’s hopes of going to the London Olympics are over after the British Olympic Association (BOA) ratified GB Taekwondo’s controversial decision to omit him on Friday.
In a statement, the BOA said their Olympic Qualification Standards (OQS) panel — including Team GB chief Andy Hunt and former England rugby coach Clive Woodward — had reached a “unanimous” decision to leave out Cook and take Lutalo Muhammad to represent Great Britain in the Men’s under-80 kg weight category instead.
GB Taekwondo’s repeated failure to nominate Cook — the world number one in his weight class and who won a second successive European title last month — has been one of the more baffling controversies in the run-up to the London Olympics.
Muhammad will have to drop down a weight category to compete in his place, but GB Taekwondo had always insisted that they had sound reasons for their decision.
The BOA statement said: “British Taekwondo did in fact follow its approved selection procedures and did comply with the directives given to it by an earlier Appeal Panel and the OQS Panel.
“The decision to ratify the nomination was taken following an extensive review of the selection process followed by British Taekwondo.”
The BOA did however criticise GB Taekwondo for the way in which their selection process was handled.
“There are two world-class athletes directly impacted by this nomination, and our panel would have preferred to see the selection process managed in a manner that would have been of much greater service to both athletes,” said Hunt.
“With two exceptionally talented athletes in consideration for one place, there is no doubt this was a difficult decision for the British Taekwondo Selection Committee, which makes following the approved selection procedures all the more important.”
Muhammad has received hate mail — something Cook’s agent, Jamie Cunningham, deplored in a statement issued earlier this week where he said it would be a “national disgrace” if his client did not compete at London 2012.
“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,” Cunningham said. “These are all facts, not opinion.”
Cook, 21, believes his decision to drop out of GB Taekwondo’s elite training programme and go it alone has counted against him.
His management company later issued a statement calling the decision a “disgrace”.
“Aaron is naturally incredibly disappointed with the BOA decision,” said the statement.
“It is an absolute disgrace that a British world number one has not been selected for the London Olympics by either his governing body or Olympic Association.
“The STUK Taekwondo selectors should be ashamed of themselves.
“Since Aaron’s departure from their club the results are plain for everyone to see.
“But Aaron’s results with his new team have not been good enough to justify his selection.
“Yet he is world number one, European champion and has beaten 10 of the top 15 athletes in the Olympic rankings in his most recent fights.
“What more could Aaron have done? Is the message that if you fund yourself and do not take Lottery funding then you cannot participate in the Olympic Games?
“We urge the World Taekwondo Federation to consider the ramifications of this flawed decision for their great sport.
“Aaron will be considering whether he wishes to pursue a legal route to contest this decision over the weekend.”
Aaron Cook was born on January 2nd, 1991 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Cook_(taekwondo)
January 2nd, 1991
1 + 2 +1+9+9+1 = 23 = his life lesson = Athlete. Sports. In shape. Physically fit.
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