Aaron Cook switches allegiance and will now compete for Isle of Man
The European Taekwondo champion Aaron Cook has switched allegiance from Great Britain to the Isle of Man for international competitions after not being selected by GB Taekwondo for the London 2012 Olympics.
The current number 2 of the Welter category in the WTF World Ranking will compete for the self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea, in the next World Taekwondo Championships, European Championships and all International Opens, but still hopes to represent Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for me and will allow me to still compete for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, which I’ve wanted. Now we can look forward”, declared Cook on Sky Sports television channel.
The European gold medallist at Manchester 2012 (Dorchester, England, 1991), saw his Olympic dream suddenly break when his former federation decided to select Lutalo Muhammad, ranked 59 in the world, instead of him to compete in London 2012. The decision, based on Cook’s disagreements with GB Taekwondo training methods, caused a huge controversy in his country. The former World number 1 appealed his case, but finally decided to give up as his Federation’s best offer was to name him as the first reserve for the Games.
Since then, Cook ruled out the possibility to return to the GB Taekwondo squad, as he felt his decision to to take charge of his own training regime was the only reason for his exclusion: “I couldn’t see any way forward with them, it was very hard for me to go back down there after they didn’t select me. I felt there was nothing more I could have done to get selected for the Olympics, I was reigning European champion and world number one. I’m never going to work with those people again, they’ve made their minds up with what they’ve done to me. And I’ve made my mind up”.
The Isle of Man, as a British Crown Dependency, compete for Team GB at the Olympics, which makes Cook’s dream to win an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain still possible to come true.
Aaron is aware that being selected for Rio by the same people that left him out of London may be just a dream, but hopes that the recently approved WTF Grand Prix Series will open a new path for the Olympics: “I think I’m quite lucky at the moment – the WTF are looking to organise new competitions such as the Grands Prix series, which will be starting in 2014 and will open up a different path to the Olympics, a different path based on World Ranking. So all I have to do is go and win the World Championships, European Championships and make sure I’m top ranked in the world and I can get there there and off my own back, which we didn’t have in the past”, stated.