Taekwondo Grand Prix: Aaron Cook takes silver in Manchester

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Taekwondo GP: Ferocious kick sends Aaron Cook into final
Live on the BBC
World Taekwondo Grand Prix live on the BBC Red Button, Connected TV and on the BBC Sport website: Sunday 26 October 18:00-19:58 GMT.

European champion Aaron Cook claimed -80kg silver at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester on Saturday.

Cook lost to Iranian Mahdi Khodabakhshi 13-11 in the final after a stunning knockout of world champion Tahir Guelec in the semi-final.

The 23-year-old has competed under the Isle of Man flag since being controversially overlooked for the Team GB London Olympic squad.

"I gave it everything, but just came up short today," said Cook.

"Khodabakhshi has only come on the scene this year but he's winning almost everything and he's going to be a major threat for gold in Rio [at the 2016 Olympics]."

Cook beat former world number one Ramin Azizov en route to the final.

He trailed 4-0, but responded with a ferocious reverse kick which struck the German in the jaw, knocking him off his feet and ending the contest within 50 seconds.

"I found myself down and needed to find something special. Unfortunately I couldn't do the same in the final."

Silver will extend Cook's points lead at the top of the global standings - an important step with the World Taekwondo Federation confirming that only one fighter per country per division will be permitted to enter the Rio Olympics.

British fighters in action on Sunday:
Rachelle Booth, Jade Jones (-57kg); Jordan Gayle, Mike Harvey, Martin Stamper (-68kg)

Cook's main rival Lutalo Muhammad - who was selected for London 2012 and claimed -80kg bronze - endured a disappointing day.

The current world number three finished without a medal for the third consecutive World Taekwondo Grand Prix after an opening-round defeat by Iran's Masoud Hajizavareh.

"Adapting is the only way you can really maintain [performance]," Muhammad told BBC Sport.

"I will go back to the drawing board and look at the things I didn't do that well."

His -80kg team-mate Damon Sansum faired better - winning two bouts before losing to bronze medallist Guelec on golden point in the quarter-finals.

Guelec had earlier eliminated Briton Andrew Deer.

European bronze medallist Asia Bailey (-49kg) and GB debutant Feyi Pearce (-58kg) both impressively won their opening fights before exiting in the second round.

Spain's Brigida Yague claimed the -49kg division title, with Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah of Iran securing the -58kg crown.

Sunday will see Britain's -57kg Olympic champion Jade Jones bid for her first World Grand Prix gold medal.

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