• London Olympics 2012

Taekwondo No. 1 reacts to Olympic snub

ESPN staff
June 13, 2012

Aaron Cook, the current taekwondo world number one, has laid out his frustrations at the GB Taekwondo selectors' decision to omit him from the Olympic team.

The 21-year-old, currently the European champion in the -80kg category, was left out of the London 2012 selection with rival Lutalo Muhammad (-87kg) chosen in his place despite having a much lower world ranking and win record.

A change in the international rules on how head shots are scored make Muhammad a better medal prospect than Cook according to the selectors, and despite repeated appeals Cook has remained out of the picture.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph Cook challenged many of the justifications used by GB Taekwondo to explain his non-selection, underlining the fact he has no personal problem with Muhammad but with the manner in which the decision has been reached.

"The key criteria [in the GB Taekwondo selection process] were performances at the tournaments in A, B and C categories. Then there was the strength of opposition faced, the percentage of matches won and the success on the Electronic PSS," wrote Cook.

"My results are vastly superior to Lutalo's. The quality of the players I have faced is far higher and I have won nine of my last 12 tournaments. I have recently defeated 10 of the top 15 qualified 2012 Olympians and world medallists including five-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion Steven Lopez and the current -87kg world champion Yousef Karami and the -80kg world champion Farzad Abdollahi.

"All of these performances were in the -80kg Olympic weight category, not -87kg. Based on the listed performance criteria of British Taekwondo, I have been overlooked based on a subjective analysis of criteria not listed in the selection policy and due to British Taekwondo casting doubt on world rankings and the change in wording (not the actual rules) of head shots."

Cook also questioned comments made by performance director Gary Hall over the world rankings, and said the reason for his omission was based on his decision to leave the Great Britain world class performance programme last year to pursue his own training schedule outside the guidance of GB Taekwondo.

The World Taekwondo Federation became involved in the matter and questioned a "lack of transparency" from GB Taekwondo and opted to investigate the omission of Cook from the team, but as of June 8 the British Olympic Association had ratified the nomination of Muhammad in the -80kg category, leaving Cook to say he would seek legal advice in a bid to resolve the matter.

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