Sansum on Cook's switch to Moldova: "It's the easy option"
Great Britain Taekwondo athlete Damon Sansum has questioned his former team-mate Aaron Cook’s decision to switch nationality and represent Moldova.
Sansum could come face to face with Cook at next month’s World Championship in Chelyabinsk after the 24-year-old’s defection was rubber-stamped by the British Olympic Association.
Cook was controversially overlooked for a place on the Great Britain squad for London 2012 despite being ranked world number one at the time, and said he feared a similar snub for Rio.
But Sansum – who has won two of the four competitive meetings between the pair to date – said he believes Cook has taken the easy route to ensuring Olympic qualification.
Sansum told Press Association Sport: “Aaron has gone to a country where he is guaranteed selection for the Olympics and that kind of thing is a dream for every athlete.
“Personally I would prefer to take the tough route to win the right to represent Team GB and stand with the GB flag and hopefully get support from the whole country.
“I don’t think it’s for the greater good of sport that these things can be allowed to happen, but it doesn’t change my situation and I am focused on doing what I need to do to go to Rio.”
Sansum lost by a golden point to Cook in their last meeting in the European final last year but the Elgin athlete has since rebounded to win gold medals in Holland and the US this year.
Sansum, a former kick-boxer, made the switch to taekwondo via the sport’s ‘Fighting Chance’ programme four years ago admitted the possibility of going to London 2012 came too soon.
But seeing the gold medal success of Jade Jones and the bronze Cook’s replacement in the -80kg category Lutalo Muhammad raised, Sansum’s hopes that he too could succeed on the world stage.
“I went to watch the Olympics and it was great to experience it and now I will know better what to expect if I manage to qualify for Rio,” said Sansum.
“That is clearly in my sights but first of all I am aiming to become Britain’s first male world champion in Chelyabinsk. It would mean everything to me and I believe I am in good enough form to do it.”