Aaron Cook: "I won't return to GB setup"
Taekwondo world No. 1 Aaron Cook has committed himself to the Isle of Man after reclaiming top spot in the rankings.
The 22-year-old quit the Great Britain set-up in 2011 after being controversially overlooked for the London Olympics in favour of Lutalo Muhammad – who went on to win bronze.
Cook switched to representing the Isle of Man last year and insisted there was “no way back” with the British system while those responsible for his Olympic omission remain in charge.
But Cook, who finished third behind winner Muhammad at the Manchester Grand Prix last month, says he is happy with his decision.
“I’m enjoying doing it off my own back,” he told BBC Sport. “My family and I are all doing it by ourselves – I train in a shed in my back garden and we’re the best in the world.”
The European champion also revealed that he is struggling financially, having lost all his sponsors he is now funded almost entirely by his parents – who have spent more than £100,000 on their son’s career. Cook’s UK Sport athlete funding was withdrawn after he quit the GB Academy in 2011.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing, it’s obviously working, I’m up there and showing once again that I’m a top-class player,” he added. “I deserve help that’s the bottom line. I shouldn’t have to change what I’m doing.
“Hopefully someone somewhere along the line will stand up and say this isn’t right.”
GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall, meanwhile, says he is not against talks with Cook’s team, but a compromises would have to be made.
He said: “As I’ve consistently said, our door is always open to any British fighter that has ability, talent and wants to win Olympic medals but there are two sides to every connection.
“We congratulate Aaron on his performances – we wish him well in the future with the choices that he needs to make.”