'We are not friends': Muhammad fires-up rivalry with Cook
Grudge match-up would spark fireworks in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games taekwondo competition
Lutalo Muhammad has stoked rivalry with British-born Aaron Cook ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games taekwondo competition. Muhammad was controversially selected ahead of Cook, 25, for their home Games in London in 2012 and went on to claim the bronze medal in the -80kg category.
Taekwondo test event brings ‘the way of the feet and hands Cook switched allegiance to Moldova and the pair could meet in the final at the Carioca Arena 3 on 19 August if both progress through the qualifying draw.
The rivalry is further complicated with Cook in a long-term relationship with Bianca Walkden, who competes for Team GB in the women’s +67kg category.
“We are not friends,” Muhammad, 25, said of his relationship with Cook. “There’s always fireworks when we fight, it’s always exciting, it’s the fight the crowd wants to see.
“It’s probably the biggest rivalry in taekwondo. I embrace it. Cook is a world-class athlete, he’s always going to be dangerous. Do I think I’m better than him? Absolutely. “The place to prove that is in the ring. I’ve got four fights to win an Olympic gold medal. If Cook is one of those fights, I welcome it.”
Potential tasty fight
It is two wins each from their previous four fights. “That makes it even more tasty for a fifth fight,” Muhammad said, before revealing he has no problems with team-mate Walkden. “Bianca’s great about it,” he said.
“She’s been going out with him for years. She’s good at keeping her personal and professional life separate. I’ve never had a problem with Bianca.”
Taekwondo athletes at Rio 2016 will wear coloured pants and have a mixed martial arts flavor in a bid to spice up the competition. Organsiers changed its square fighting mat to an octagon, the shape of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s cage.
Competitors will also be allowed to wear coloured pants with their national flags at the Aug. 17-20 tournament at the Carioca Arena 3.
“The introduction of coloured pants for athletes will transform the look of competition, adding to the vibrant, carnival atmosphere in Rio, and will give athletes an even greater sense of national pride as they compete for their countries,” World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) president Chungwon Choue said.
Source: Rio 2016