Cook beaten but Stevenson sure of taekwondo medal

By Nick HopeBBC Sport in South Korea

Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Stevenson has guaranteed herself a medal at the World Championships in Gyeongju, Korea after a 12-1 quarter-final victory over Viktoryia Belanouskaya of Belarus.

The Doncaster-born fighter, who will compete in a semi-final - and potentially final - on Tuesday provided a welcome boost to the British camp, her win coming hours after European champion and world number one Aaron Cook crashed out of the competition in his first match.

Stevenson is competing in her first tournament of 2011, after taking time away from the sport to help care for her critically ill parents.

"I felt a little bit tired in the first match, but I thought I have nothing to complain about baring in mind what my parents are going through," Stevenson told BBC Sport.

In January the 28-year-old's mother, Diana, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, whilst just a couple of weeks ago her father, Roy, had an operation to remove a brain tumour.

"A few weeks ago, with everything that was going on, I was thinking I can't possibly go [to Korea] but to now know that I've got a medal and perhaps even a gold one - is amazing!" she added.

"I've got all night and all morning to prepare and whilst I know it's going to be a really hard match in the semis, I know I can do it and I know I can win the gold."

Victory on Tuesday would deliver her third world championship title, which would come 10 years after her first success, also in Korea.

"The queen is back," remarked GB performance director Gary Hall.

"She's world class when she's on form and looks so strong out there."

Cook, 20, had received a bye through the first round, but came unstuck against the United States' Luke Ford, losing 7-5.

"I'm absolutely gutted to be honest, I've been crying my eyes out since I lost the match," admitted Cook.

"I came here felt good, but as soon as I stepped on that mat nothing worked.

"I've trained hard, I've sacrificed so much, been making sure I eat correctly, go to bed by nine but it hasn't worked.

It was Cook's third successive opening round defeat, after losses at the US and German opens earlier this year.

"I've had a lot of kick and a lot of knocks this year and it should have spurred me on more in this tournament, but it didn't work and perhaps I need to go back to enjoying it a bit more, relax a little and get back to where I was," said Cook.

Hall was equally disappointed with Cook's failure but still believe he has the potential to turn his recent poor form around.

"If you ever want to reach the top of your sport you have to be able to handle the pressure that goes with it, because there are always going to be people coming up behind you," he added.

"We have 12 months [before the Olympics] to get it right but at the moment we're going out in the opening round of the World Championships and for him that really is not acceptable.

"Aaron is one of the hardest working fighters you could hope to work with, he won't be happy with the result as he has very high expectations of himself, but working him harder and smarter is what we must do now."

Cook's defeat could potentially put British Taekwondo in a tricky position regarding which weight divisions they nominate for the London Olympics, a decision which must be made by the end of May.

However, it is believed his achievements since the Beijing Olympics, where he finished fourth at the age of 17, will assist his bid.

"You can't deny the talent that the lad has, but the pressure is getting more and more as we lead into 2012," admitted Hall.

"We believe he has what it take to come through that and that his talent will come good in the end."

Caroline Fisher was the other Brit in action on day two, winning her first match against Japan's Mayu Yamadabefore losing to Hatice Yangin of Turkey.

In addition to the prospect of seeing Stevenson in finals action, Youth Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones will begin her World Championships campaign.

The 18-year-old has been in great form this year, winning three medals in her first two senior open championships.