Taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook wins Austria Open

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter

GB's Aaron Cookexternal-link banished memories of a dismal Taekwondo World Championships with victory at the Austrian Open.

The 20-year-old had travelled to the Worlds in Korea as the pre-tournament favourite but lost in his first fight.

"He wanted a run out and to get a bit of confidence back, so I'm pleased he managed to do that," said GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall.

Jordan Gayleexternal-link also impressed, winning -68kg bronze in his first competition since returning from injury.

The pair were the only British fighters to travel to Innsbruck, with many of the GB squad having only recently returned to training following an extended break after last month's World Championships.

Cook made light work of Norway's Tor Lovseth Waage (23-3) and Youth Olympic silver medallist Ibrahim Ahmadsei of Germany (9-1) in the opening rounds.

The Dorchester-born fighter then saw off the challenge of European silver medallist Nikolaos Tzellos of Greece (18-15) in the semi-finals, before completing an impressive day with a comprehensive 22-10 victory over Slovenia's Ivan Trajkovic in the final.

"The quality of the field wasn't quite what it could have been, as some of the strongest fighters [in the -80kg division] are preparing for the Olympic qualifiers next month," said Hall.

"There's still a lot of thinking to be done if he's to get back to the top, but it was a good result for him and I'm sure he's got what he wanted from that event."

Bronze for Gayleexternal-link was a significant achievement for the 19-year-old, who has endured an injury-plagued 18 months and had last medalled internationally at Paris Open in late 2009.

He saw off the challenge posed by Slovakian Ondrej Cehlar (11-2), Viktor Jankovsky of the Czech Republic (3-2) and -63kg world silver medallist Konstantinos Konstantinidis of Greece (8-3), in the quarter-finals.

His winning run came to an end with a 9-7 defeat to the eventual winner, Jure Panter from Slovenia.

"We are really pleased to see Jordan returning to competitive action following a long rehabilitation period," said Hall.

"To achieve what he has after so long out following surgery is incredible, so we're extremely delighted he's brought back a medal."

Speaking before the competition, Gayle said he had been desperate to return to the mat.

"Having missed out on the World Championships I'm obviously keen to get back into competition and I've been working really hard in training,"

"I'll do the same at the Nationals [18-19 June] and then I'll focus on winning the British Open in October," said the Manchester fighter.

Along with Cook's -80kg division, Gayle's -68kg category was recently selected by British Taekwondo for inclusion at the 2012 Olympics.

The sole -68kg place will be keenly contested as Britain boasts three other leading fighters, in the form of World Championship bronze medallist Martin Stamperexternal-link, -62kg World silver medallist Michael Harveyexternal-link and British Champion Tony Grismanexternal-link.

Stamper recently attributed his good form to fatherhood, whilst last month Hall said the contest was "too close to call" just over a year away from the Olympic Games.

"Tony Grisman, Michael Harvey, Martin Stamper and Jordan Gayle all have the potential to take that place, they won't make it easy for us, but it's a great position for the British team to be in," Hall told BBC Sport.

Great Britain will miss the World Olympic qualification tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan next month, because they already have guarenteed places for London 2012 as hosts of the Games.

It means their next competition is likely to be the British Openexternal-link in October, with the 2012 European Championships in Manchester their last major event before the Olympics.