London 2012

For Aaron Cook, the London Olympics were incredibly painful to watch, with the summer he had longed for proving to be very different from how he had anticipated.

Fascinating facts

  • Aaron's favourite band is Kings of Leon
  • In his spare time he likes to go bowling and likes to play table tennis

The taekwondo ace and world number one had his dreams dashed after the British Olympic Association (BOA) ratified Lutalo Muhammad's selection over Cook . After working so hard for many years, the opportunity to compete in the men's -80kg weight category at a home Games was taken away from him.

Despite this though, Aaron has got over his Olympic disappointment and is glad there is still something to be pleased about as he remains ranked world number one.

From the age of five the Dorset-born fighter has dedicated his life to a sport that he fell in love with, by accident, after his parents took him to a Taekwondo class to discourage him from performing 'Power Ranger kicks' on his younger brother.

Taekwondo became Cook's entire life. Aaron left school at 15 with no GCSEs and says he has little time for socialising because he is in 'pursuit of greatness'.

Growing up in Dorchester, Taekwondo was something of a rarity, with the nearest club a 100-mile round trip away in Southampton. Cook's father undertook this journey three times a week, as well as building a gym in the back garden, so that Aaron could train before and after school each day.

Cook is probably best known for his appearance at the Beijing Olympics where controversial refereeing decisions prevented him from making the final. In truth it was remarkable that Cook even made it to Beijing: In Olympic qualification, aged 16, he fought men twice his age and seven kilos heavier than his teenage frame.

When asked what his proudest moment is, Aaron says that it is difficult to decided between becoming the first ever GB Taekwondo Junior World Champion, qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics having just turned 17, and beating the five-time World Senior and twice Olympic Champion, Steven Lopez USA, by knock out.

Prior to Beijing, Aaron gained a lot from the help and advice of Sir Steve Redgrave and Tanni Grey-Thompson. However, his family is the closest thing he's had to a mentor as they have been there from the start of his journey.

Aaron Cook

  • DOB: 02/01/1991
  • Events: Taekwondo
  • Residence: Manchester, England