Aaron Cook could switch countries for Rio Olympics after GB snub for London 2012
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 08/10/12 7:37pm
World number one Aaron Cook says he will contemplate fighting for another country at the 2016 Rio Olympics after his controversial snub by taekwondo selectors for London 2012.
Cook made it all the way up to number one in the world rankings in his 80kg taekwondo division, but was then bizarrely overlooked for selection to Team GB for the London Games.
Lutalo Muhammad, who usually fights in a different weight class, was chosen instead and he performed well in London as he claimed a bronze despite all the pressure and attention being thrust upon him through no fault of his own.
That result, though, means that British Taekwondo selectors will feel justified in snubbing Cook for London, in what he says was a personal decision based on the fact he chose to leave the national training academy.
Cook funded his own training regime and went around the world sparring with top-class opponents to help make him world number one, and he feels that unless those involved are removed from power he will have to fight for another country in Rio in order to get his chance.
"I was ranked at number one in the world, I beat the Olympic gold medallist this year, the Olympic silver medallist and I'd beaten Lutalo - there's nothing more I needed to do to get selected," Cook told Sky Sports News.
"It was all personal just because I left the academy set-up. It's disgusting and these people need to be made accountable for what has happened.
"Best case scenario I fight for Great Britan and I'll win the Olympic gold for Great Britain in Rio, but if nothing happens, if the BOA don't step in or UK sport, if Gary Hall and everyone stays that's it.
"Realistically we've probably got to wait three years I might still get my chance in Rio but it might be under a different flag, I don't know who, but that's worst case scenario.
"But I'd rather win the Olympic gold for myself and my country first."
Despite Cook's reservations, GB performance director Hall maintains British Taekwondo are willing to renew their working relationship.
"I have been consistent in stating that the door is always open for Aaron as far as representing Great Britain is concerned," Hall said in a statement.
"Whilst he chose to leave the World Class Performance programme, that doesn't mean he isn't eligible for the British team and I want to establish whether he wants to be part of our plans for Mexico and, in the long term, for Rio.
"Our governing body has recently approached Aaron with an opportunity to represent Great Britain in an upcoming WTF invitational event, though they have yet to receive a response.
"We will continue to try and engage with Aaron, though clearly it is up to him as to whether he wants to make himself available for Great Britain in the future."