Aaron Cook considering nationality switch after London 2012 snub

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook won -80kg European gold in 2012, but was controversially overlooked by GB Taekwondo for their London Olympic team

World taekwondo number one Aaron Cook could turn his back on Great Britain and compete for another nation following his London Olympics snub.

Despite numerous appeals Cook was controversially overlooked by the sport's national governing body, who selected Lutalo Muhammad for London.

Muhammad went on to win -80kg bronze and Cook feels he has little chance of being chosen at the weight in future.

"In three years I may be under a different flag," Cook told 5 live.

Cook wins 2012 European championship gold

"My dream is to win an Olympic gold in Rio for Team GB but it's going to be extremely difficult for me to move forward after everything that's happened.

"I'm world number one, I'm reigning European champion, I've beaten the guy who they selected in front of me [Muhammad] and the Olympic gold [Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich] and silver [Nicolas Garcia Hemme] medallists this year - I should have been at that Olympics."

The Manchester-based fighter quit the GB programme in June last year following a first-round elimination at the World Championships in South Korea.

Cook felt the GB programme's insistence on more defensive tactics where inhibiting his natural attacking instincts and as such he recruited his own coaching staff to aid his London Olympic bid.

Although GB performance director Gary Hall insisted there was 'no witch-hunt' against Cook during their Team GB selection, the fighter believes otherwise.

"It was all personal, it was nothing about what I had won," stated the British Open champion to BBC Radio 5 live.Drive.

"If these people don't resign or don't get fired then that's realistically [competing for another nation] where we're at."

Cook is not understood to have any strong bloodline links with any other countries, but could move to the US or France in a bid to claim citizenship for another nation.

Under International Olympic Committee [IOC] rules,external-link athletes are permitted to switch nationalities provided there is a three-year gap between representing their previous country.

As such the fighter has written to the World Taekwondo Federation [WTF] requesting special permission to enter next year's World Championships in Mexico without an official allegiance.

"I know it's going to be extremely hard for me to represent Great Britain because Lutalo [Muhammad] got a bronze medal," said Cook, who confessed he couldn't "bear" to watch his rival compete in London.

"I'm hoping that I can represent myself as an independent person at the world championships, but if that can't happen we're going to have to look down the route of waiting three years and looking for another country."

Cook feels 'robbed' of a London Olympic place

In a statement, GB Taekwondoexternal-link insisted that the "door is always open" for Cook in terms of representing Great Britain.

"Whilst he chose to leave the World Class Performance programme, that doesn't mean he isn't eligible for the British team and I want to establish whether he wants to be part of our plans for Mexico and, in the long term, for Rio," revealed Hall.

"Our governing body recently approached Aaron with an opportunity to represent Great Britain in an upcoming WTF invitational event, though they have yet to receive a response.

"We will continue to try and engage with Aaron, though clearly it is up to him as to whether he wants to make himself available for Great Britain in the future."