GB door is open for Cook

OLYMPIC SUCCESS: Lutalo Muhammad

OLYMPIC SUCCESS: Lutalo Muhammad

First published in Sport

BRITISH Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall insists the door will always be open for world number one Aaron Cook to fight for his country.

Cook, who left the Manchester-based GB Taekwondo Academy training programme in the run-up to the Olympics, was a controversial omission from the final squad for London 2012, with selectors instead opting for Lutalo Muhammad, who went on to win a bronze medal.

Cook feels it is “impossible” for him to work again within the current Team GB set-up, but Hall insists the governing body remain willing to build bridges.

“I have been consistent in stating that the door is always open for Aaron as far as representing Great Britain is concerned,” said Hall.

“Whilst he chose to leave the World Class Performance programme, that doesn’t mean he isn’t eligible for the British team, and I want to establish whether he wants to be part of our plans for Mexico and, in the long term, for Rio.

“Our governing body has recently approached Aaron with an opportunity to represent Great Britain in an upcoming WTF invitational event, though they have yet to receive a response.

“We will continue to try and engage with Aaron, though clearly it is up to him as to whether he wants to make himself available for Great Britain in the future.”

As well as under-80kgs bronze for Muhammad, Wales teenager Jade Jones delivered gold in the under-57kgs at ExCeL to mark a new era following the retirement of Sarah Stevenson after London.

Moving into the Rio 2012 psyche, it remains unclear whether Cook will be part of that era.

The 21-year-old, who saw his selection appeals to the British Olympic Association end in disappointment, is determined to fulfil his own Olympic ambitions in Rio but insists that cannot be done under the current structure.

Under-80kgs fighter Cook has written to WTF president Chungwon Choue to ask for world rankings to carry more weight in national selections, and also if he would be able to compete at future events such as the World Championships independent of the British squad.

Secretary general of WTF Jean-Marie Ayer said: “This is a matter for GB Taekwondo to deal with, although changing nationalities in an Olympic sport is quite a drastic measure and a very complicated procedure that requires approvals from various bodies – including the WTF and IOC (for Olympic competition).

“So the WTF hope that this rare and isolated episode within our 203 member national associations (with over 70 million practitioners) can be dealt with internally and quickly.”

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