British Fencing insist Keith Cook not selected for Olympics on performance grounds

 

British Fencing maintain Keith Cook was not selected for the Olympics on performance grounds.

Scotsman Cook is refusing to give up on his Olympic dream after British Fencing rejected his appeal against exclusion from the London 2012 squad and has taken legal advice.

Cook, the 2010 British champion and five-time Commonwealth Games medallist, was not named in the 10-strong group, with eight of the team chosen on a discretionary basis under the Host Nation places rules after only two fencers qualified directly.

The 31-year-old, who opted out of British Fencing's 'Olympic Pathway' two years ago for family reasons, was told in correspondence from British Fencing officials - copies of which have been seen by Press Association Sport - that while he was included in general discussions for selection, because performance manager Alex Newton had not been given his contact details as set out in Section 13 of the selection policy document, he was not informed that he had not been selected and the deadline for any appeal had passed.

Cook, ranked 95th in the world and still in the British top six having battled against recent injury, has been left "utterly sickened" by the saga, and believes proper procedure was not followed.

However, British Fencing have always maintained their selection process is transparent, with several fencers having seen their appeals against non-selection already rejected.

A statement from British Fencing to Press Association Sport read: "For the unique 2012 Host Nation places, British Fencing has followed a robust selection process, agreed (after athlete agreement) with the BOA some 18 months ago.

"Keith Cook was not nominated to the BOA for selection for Team GB by the Olympic Selection Panel - an independent Panel, established by British Fencing as part of the selection process - because Keith did not qualify, he did not meet standards and performance requirements for selection to the Men's Foil squad. Several other athletes were placed above him.

"Whilst 25 other athletes participated in the selection process, Keith did not. Regardless of his oversight, he was considered for selection by the selection panel.

"British Fencing has followed the selection process professionally and fairly.

"Five appeals have now been heard by the Sports Resolution UK panel and all have been rejected.

"We do understand Keith Cook's disappointment. We have attempted to speak to Keith to talk through the process with him and his concerns, but he has declined.

"Mr. Cook has always been an excellent ambassador for the sport of fencing and we very much hope he continues to be in the future.

"Despite this unfortunate situation we will still continue to support him should he want us to."

Britain's top fencer Richard Kruse, who qualified directed for the London Games, delivered a bronze medal at the European Championships in Italy this weekend. Jim van Wijk

PA

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