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Cook's fight for Olympics spot continues
8:24am Friday 22nd June 2012 in Local Sport
AARON Cook’s representatives have vowed to continue the fight to get the world’s number one taekwondo fighter on the British Olympic team.
GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall is determined to keep his squad’s energy focused on delivering medals in London, but the row over Cook’s exclusion continues to rumble on.
Submissions have again be made to the British Olympic Association in which Cook’s camp claim new evidence, from leading independent website Mastaek wondo.com, supports their case, one that may even result in legal action.
Elsewhere, the World Taekwondo Federation are also reviewing the decision to instead ratify Lutalo Muhammad – also a European champion but at a higher weight division.
Cook’s manager Jamie Cunningham said in a statement: “We can confirm that Harbottle & Lewis have written to the BOA with advice from Michael Beloff QC of Blackstone Chambers.
“We have also included new evidence, including a sworn statement by the journalist from Mastaekwondo.com – the world’s leading independent taekwondo news website.
“We can also confirm that we have fully supported the World Taekwondo Federation’s investigation into the selection process.
“Finally, we would like to thank all taekwondo athletes, media and officials who have approached us from the UK and internationally with information and advice.
“I am sure that there is more to come and again any such approaches can be made either to myself or Robert Mitchell from Harbottle & Lewis in strictest confidence.”
Cook claims he has been “cheated” out of his rightful place because of the decision to leave the GB Taekwondo Academy programme, which the governing body has always refuted.
The BOA ratified Muhammad’s inclusion at the third time of asking, and are adamant GB Taekwondo’s selection process was above board.
However, the chief executive of Mastaekwondo.com Claudio Aranda maintained they will stand by the article published during February this year, in which they stated information had been obtained which “asserts that Cook would not be confirmed to participate in London 2012” – and will give evidence if necessary.
GB Taekwondo issued a statement in response.
It read: “GB Taekwondo categorically denies any suggestion that this selection decision, for the under-80kg category, was pre-determined. This is simply untrue and malicious.
“We are seeking more information on the very serious and damaging allegations made and will comment further in due course.”
The ongoing saga has overshadowed what had been a superb build-up to the Games from Hall’s elite fighters, who followed up four medals at the World Championships with more impressive displays through the ranks at the 2012 European Championships in Manches-ter.
Hall, though, insists everyone else must put those issues aside and now fine-tune preparations – which include a purpose-built Olympic ring at their Manchester base, with teams from Korea, Russia, Croatia and France all set to train ahead of departure to the Loughborough holding camp.
“The issues around it (Olympic selection) are unfortunate, but we accept that these things happen,” Hall said.
“What we are doing now is really turning the energy towards making sure these last few weeks of preparations go as best as they can so we are ready to deliver medals in London.”
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