Taekwondo: BOA to rule on Cook's 'political' exclusion


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The Independent Online

Aaron Cook has appealed to the British Olympic Association after being left out of this summer's London Games, despite being the European taekwondo champion and soon the world No 1.

On Friday, Cook will be confirmed on top of the world rankings in the 80kg category. In Beijing four years ago he finished fourth, at the age 17, and he was widely expected to be in contention to win gold in London. But last week British Taekwondo did not pick him in its four-strong team for the Games, a decision that it has been claimed is based on sporting politics.

Cook appealed the selection to Sporting Resolutions, the UK arbitrator, which asked British Taekwondo to reconsider. It did and the selectors still overlooked Cook, choosing Lutalo Muhammad, a 20-year-old currently ranked 10th. Last year Cook withdrew from the British Taekwondo training programme, in order to go his own way.

The BOA signs off every Olympic team selected by a governing body. BOA officials will meet today to decide whether to hear Cook's appeal.

"I find it incredible as the world No 1, I may not participate in the Games due to the 'opinion' of a committee who – as reported in the British media – have apparently voted against the performance director, who is reported to have voted for me at both selection meetings," Cook said. "It is ironic that in three days the World Taekwondo Federation rankings will confirm I am No 1 in my weight category. Individual sport is about results.

"I left British Taekwondo's world class performance programme because I felt their methods were wrong for me. I was not achieving my potential. Twelve months after backing myself the results show that I was 100 per cent right."

British Taekwondo stood by its choice. It said: "Selection of these athletes has involved some difficult decisions. Ultimately decisions are based on panel's expert judgement in selecting athletes best placed to bring success."