GB taekwondo squad 'still on course' despite Cook exit

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Cook IV

Performance director Gary Hall says Britain's taekwondo fighters are still on course for Olympic success despite the resignation of Aaron Cook.

European champion Cook left the World Class Performance programme last week to pursue his own training schedule outside the guidance of GB Taekwondo.

But Hall says he is confident in his remaining members' preparations ahead of London 2012.

"Our guys are rising to those challenges and are doing really well."

He said the next 18 months will be both challenging and rewarding for the candidates hoping to earn one of the four places awarded by the British Olympic Association.

"Competition is good and let's hope we get as many athletes to the selection post fit and healthy," he said.

"London 2012 offers a great opportunity for the sport to grow. It also offers great opportunities for the fighters who are there to win major medals and become superstars."

Rumours of Cook's unrest followed a disappointing World Championship campaign in May that saw the -80kg fighter dumped out in the first round.

The reigning European champion had a brief return to form earlier this month when he won the Austrian Open - but the field was significantly weakened due to key competitors being away preparing for a forthcoming Olympic qualification event.

Cook's resignation does not count him out of possible Olympic selection. A good showing in key international open events in the next year could see him included in the team.

However, he will lose the Athlete Personal Award and will have to fund his own travel and training costs.

Hall hinted that he felt that Cook's long-term future would have been best served within Team GB.

"Aaron's decision does disappoint us because we have worked with him for a long time and what we have done as a team with Aaron is a great achievement - he has been European and world junior champion, then now senior European champion."

"We do believe full-time [training] is fundamental to win Olympic gold, and that is why we created the programme we did in Manchester.

"To win Olympic gold, you have to take care of every single detail and we have a staff who can do that."

Although disappointed, Hall insists the 20-year-old's decision to go it alone will not taint their working relationship.

"It is not going to benefit either of us to end it at loggerheads," he said.

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Taekwondo world number one Aaron Cook on his struggles and successes

"The [Olympic] door is open - there is a selection policy which is available for any athlete within the performance programme, or any athlete who works on the outside."

He acknowledged the Dorset-based fighter has had a tough few months in training but was confident any concerns over preparations could be worked out.

"We believe we know why those tough six months occurred and where we can put that right inside our own coaching staff.

"But Aaron has made his call, we respect that and wish him all the very best."

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