Cook fights Taekwondo exclusion

Team GB’s Taekwondo Olympic selection continues to cause embarrassment. The British team’s refusal to include 80kg world number one Aaron Cook has caused consternation and criticism from the sports minister.

Cook is baffled and angry at the continued determination to exclude him in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, ranked 58 places below him, despite two appeals. The British Olympic Association is apparently considering forcing the Taekwondo authority to include Cook.

The British coaches who selected Muhammad insist they are acting solely on performance rather than punishing Cook for arranging his training outside the British team set-up. A selection panel observer, Dr Steve Peters, said, "We all agreed that if world ranking and success in tournaments were the only selection criteria, then Aaron would be selected as he's an outstanding athlete who could get gold at the Olympics. All we're saying is that there are two athletes who can achieve this."

Cook’s coach Patrice Remarck was unsurprised by their refusal to relent. "They came up with a decision and they have to keep coming up with the same position otherwise they look stupid," he said.

Although sports minister Hugh Robertson said it was not up to politicians to select teams, he did add, "Is it embarrassing for us? The honest answer is yes, because you would rather not see sports getting criticised by their international federations."

Team GB performance director Gary Hall was disappointed about the continuing row. "This is turning a bit nasty," he said. "It's becoming a bit desperate. Everyone is becoming a loser now and that's not how we wanted it."

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