The chances of Aaron Cook competing at the London Olympics increased yesterday when the British Olympic Association refused to accept British Taekwondo's initial selection.
The BOA has asked for "further clarification" surrounding the exclusion of Cook, the world No 1 and European champion, from the under-80kg category and it is set to meet British Taekwondo tomorrow. A final decision is likely by the end of the week.
"Encouraging news," Cook tweeted last night. "Thank you to the BOA, I await further news. The dream is still alive..." Cook, who finished fourth in Beijing in 2008, aged 17, appealed to the BOA after being left out of the four-strong team despite impressive recent performances and the backing of the sport's performance director, Gary Hall. It has been suggested that Cook's non-selection is down to political reasons. Last year the 21-year-old quit the governing body's training programme to go his own way.
Instead of Cook, Lutalo Muhammad, ranked 56 in the world, was nominated in the under-80kg category. Yesterday the BOA's Olympic Qualification Standards panel – chief executive Andy Hunt, Sir Clive Woodward, deputy chef de mission Mark England and Sarah Winckliss, the former rower who chairs the BOA athletes commission – decided to delay approving the nominated athletes.
A BOA statement read: "The OQS Panel seeks to ensure that the process of selecting athletes for Team GB is conducted in a manner that is fair and in accordance with the approved selection procedures.
"With respect to the nomination in the men's under-80kg category, the OQS Panel is requesting a meeting with the British Taekwondo Selection Committee to seek further information and clarification about: the process by which the athletes were evaluated by the selection committee; the head-kick scoring regulations in international taekwondo and their bearing on selection; the OQS Panel will also be seeking information from the World Taekwondo Federation."
It is believed British Taekwondo used regulations over high-kick scoring as a reason for Cook's non-selection.
The BOA also decided that only one British wrestler would be selected. Wrestling, which has received £3.5m of public funding, has been dogged by controversy over its backing of a number of naturalised athletes from eastern Europe. It is a policy that has raised issues about the sport's legacy in this country.
"There is a standard across Team GB that must be upheld," said Hunt.
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