Cook wins first British bout since quitting GB set-up

Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook won his first title in the UK since quitting the British Taekwondo programme with a 23-11 defeat of countryman Craig Brown.

It was the fourth British gold medal of the weekend after Youth Olympic champion Jade Jones helped GB to three titles on day one.

"It was probably a must win match for me as we're both British guys going for an Olympic place," Cook told BBC Sport.

"Working with my own team I'm now much happier, it's the right thing for me."

Cook's emotion was in stark contrast to his mood after an opening-round defeat at the World Championships in May - a result he described as an 'embarrassment.'

He has since recruited a host of coaches and support staff known as 'Team Cook' in a bid to help him recapture the form which made him the 2010 European Champion and world number one.

"I've been travelling around the world to test myself again really strong sparring partners," said Cook.

"I've been to America, Korea, I have a new strength and conditioning coach who used to work with Manchester United and all the extra fitness training is really helping me keep going in the tough matches."

The 20-year-old demonstrated plenty of his preferred attacking style - securing several high-scoring wins, including a 19-3 demolition of Portugal's Jean-Michel Fernandes.

Upon announcement of his victory Cook shouted 'help him' in reference to his beaten opponent, who is also outside of the GB programme.

Brown, who competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was dropped two years ago and funds himself through his 'Positive impact taekwondo project' in his hometown of Peckham.

"It was quite tough to take as I felt I was still one of the stronger fighters in the programme," Brown told BBC Sport.

"It's really difficult because I don't have any support, the club is all that I have and that helps me travel, but it's really small.

"I'm still getting to finals, but I just wonder how good I would be if I had sponsorship and more backing," reflected Brown.

Caroline Fisher also collected a bronze medal -53kg division, only just missing out on the final after a sudden-death defeat to Lee Hsing-Hua of Chinese Taipei.

Whilst none of Sunday's medallists are part of the British Taekwondo programme, performance director Gary Hall insists he is happy with how the British fighters are shaping up less than a year before the London Olympics.

"I just want British players to be hitting the podium and that's what's happened.

"Lets not forget that Craig was with us for seven years and Aaron five years, so a significant amount of cash was invested in them.

"Should they be selected for Great Britain at tournaments they'll come back into the setup and be fully supported," added Hall.

GB Taekwondo's performance director also paid tribute to Saturday's gold medallist Jade Jones.

"She is a key athlete and has done really well this last year," he added.

"From junior to senior she's had little break and is continuing to win events against world class fields, which shows she's still improving," said Hall.

Great Britain's fighters will return to action for the French Open in November, but will return to competition in Manchester next May for the European Championships - the last opportunity for British athletes to state their case for Olympic selection.

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