world : 'I deserved a fight-off' - Cook devastated at omission as Scot McGowan makes Olympics team

world : 'I deserved a fight-off' - Cook devastated at omission as Scot McGowan makes Olympics team
world : 'I deserved a fight-off' - Cook devastated at omission as Scot McGowan makes Olympics team

Monday 1 July 2024 10:30 PM

Nafeza 2 world - It is arguably the most controversial Olympic selection decision to hit the sport since 2012 when Bianca’s husband, Aaron Cook, was overlooked in favour of Lutalo Muhammad.

Cook was ranked number one in the world at the time and had qualified a place for Great Britain at the Games, but Muhammad was selected instead and went on to take bronze.

Fight-offs, which have been used by other nations, including South Korea and Mexico before Paris 2024, were added as an option within the GB Taekwondo Olympic selection policy after London 2012 but have never been used.

GB Taekwondo told the BBC its selection panel did not deny Bianca Cook a fight-off, but believed the selection decision could be carried out "without the need to add this additional step in the process".

"The Olympic Selection Panel felt confident that Rebecca McGowan was in a better position than Bianca Cook to contribute to winning the best set of medals for Team GB," it said in a statement.

Before each Games, points attained in -73kg and +73kg divisions are combined to form the +67kg Olympic category standings, and just three places separated the British pair in that ranking at the end of the Paris 2024 qualification period.

While both effectively attained the place for Team GB in the women's heavyweight division due to their standings, it was McGowan who officially earned the sole spot for Great Britain due to her combined world standing of fourth.

Due to her higher seeding, McGowan was then awarded Britain’s sole heavyweight European Championships spot in May, which represented the final opportunity for fighters to stake their claim for Olympic selection.

Cook, in a move reminiscent of that exercised by her husband in 2012, opted to represent the Isle of Man in order to compete in her favoured division, but she exited at the quarter-final stage, while McGowan claimed bronze.

"I've had five knee operations in total, I've been through hell with my body and had some major, major injuries during my career, but I've never let it hold me back and I've always shown I can fight back to win," she says.

"This time since coming back I've picked up medals here and there, it's just not consistently won the golds I'm used to, but [at the Olympics] it's about mentality.

"I believe I'm [still] mentally tough for this sport and thought I'd have this one last chance."

Cook says she is "not a bitter person" and will be cheering on the British team at the Olympics.

"It’s not a personal matter with an individual, it's the situation," said Cook, who is due to be part of BBC Sport’s Paris 2024 taekwondo coverage.

"I wish her [McGowan] all the best at the Olympics and I genuinely hope Team GB Taekwondo go out there and absolutely smash it because it's a sport that I'm proud to be part of."

Cook will be 36 come the next Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028 and has no desire to put her body through another four gruelling years.

But she is not ruling out a return to the mat.

"You know I love a World Championships, so I'll never say never," she said.

"I just need a little time to process everything."

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